On Tuesday, Hurricane Nicholas made landfall off the coast of Texas, threatening up to 20 inches of rain in parts of the Gulf Coast, including the same area struck by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and storm-ravaged Louisiana.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Nicholas made landfall on the eastern side of the Matagorda Peninsula, about 10 miles (17 kilometers) west southwest of Sargent Beach, Texas, with maximum winds of 75 mph (120 kph). Nicholas was the Atlantic hurricane season's 14th named storm in 2021.
Nicholas' center was forecast to move slowly over southeastern Texas on Tuesday and southwestern Louisiana on Wednesday as it moved north northeast at 10 mph (17 kph).
The most uncertain aspect of Hurricane Nicholas was how much rain it would dump in Texas, particularly in flood-prone Houston.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for nearly the whole state's coastline, with probable flash floods and urban flooding. According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, authorities have sent rescue personnel and resources in the Houston area and along the coast.
Officials in Houston are concerned that the heavy rain forecast by Tuesday would inundate streets and flood homes. Mayor Sylvester Turner said authorities deployed high-water rescue vehicles throughout the city and constructed barricades at more than 40 flood-prone spots.
“This city is a survivor. We've figured out what we need to do. We know how to prepare,” Turner said, referring to four major flood events in the Houston area in recent years, including Harvey's devastation.
Because of the approaching storm, many school districts along the Texas Gulf Coast canceled classes on Monday. The state's largest school system and others have declared that classes will be canceled on Tuesday. DUE TO THE WEATHER, multiple COVID-19 testing and immunization sites in Houston and Corpus Christi were also canceled, and a Harry Styles performance was scheduled for Monday evening in Houston.
Along the middle and upper Texas coasts, six to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain were forecast, with isolated maximum quantities of 18 inches (46 centimeters) likely. 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain might fall in southeast Texas, south-central Louisiana, and southern Mississippi in the following days.
According to the forecast service, a tornado or two could form along the coasts of upper Texas and southwest Louisiana on Tuesday.
During a news conference in Houston, Abbott said, "Listen to local weather alerts and heed local advisories about the right and safe thing to do, and you'll make it through this storm just like you've made it through many other storms."
Nicholas dumped rain on the same part of Texas that had been devastated by Harvey. That storm made landfall on the Texas coast in the middle of the state, then stalled for four days, dumping more than 60 inches (152 cm) of rain in southeast Texas. At least 68 people have died due to Harvey, with 36 of them in the Houston region.
Following Hurricane Harvey, voters approved issuing $2.5 billion in bonds to fund flood-control initiatives such as bayou expansion. The 181 projects aimed at reducing the damage caused by future storms are in various levels of completion.
Brian McNoldy, a hurricane expert at the University of Miami, predicts that Nicholas "will be magnitudes less than Harvey in every way."
The slowness with Nicholas will be a source of concern. According to The Climate Service's hurricane researcher Jim Kossin, hurricanes have been moving slower in recent decades, and Nicholas might become trapped between two other weather systems.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced a state of emergency late Sunday night, ahead of the storm's arrival in a state still reeling from Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Laura, and unprecedented flooding last year.
“The most serious threat to Louisiana is in the southwest, where recovery from Hurricane Laura and the flooding in May is still underway,” Edwards warned.
The storm was forecast to dump the most rain west of where Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana two weeks ago.
According to the utility tracking site poweroutage.us, about 120,000 people in Louisiana were still without power Monday morning.
While Hurricane Ida had little impact on Lake Charles, the city will be hit by Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta in 2020, a winter storm in February, and catastrophic flooding this spring.
Mayor Nic Hunter of Lake Charles said the city is taking the storm's danger seriously, as it does all tropical systems.
Hunter stated, "Hope and prayer is not a good game plan."
Scott Trahan was still working on repairs to his home in Cameron Parish, Louisiana after Hurricane Laura flooded it with nearly 2 feet of water. He hopes to be done by the holidays. Many people in his region, he added, had moved rather than rebuilding.
“You're not going to get back up after getting your butt whipped four times. Trahan said, "You're going somewhere else."
Only four other years since 1966 have seen 14 or more named storms by September 12: 2005, 2011, 2012, and 2020, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.