Fears Tropical Storm Nicholas could become deadly hurricane as it heads towards southern US

TROPICAL Storm Nicholas strengthened as it closed in on the Gulf Coast on Monday, threatening to bring heavy rains and life-threatening flash flooding to Texas and Louisiana.

Nicholas, with sustained winds of 60 mph, was centered around 45 miles southeast of the Rio Grande, in Texas, early Monday and was heading northwest.


The storm is forecast to make landfall by Monday night and where it could reach near-hurricane intensity, the National Hurrican Center (NHC) said.

The NHC warned of "life-threatening storm surge inundation" along the coast of Texas from Port Aransas to San Luis Pass.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted on Sunday night that the state had already begun mobilizing resources due to the threats of heavy rains, winds, and potential floods posed by Nicholas.

"Heed warnings from local officials and be sure to avoid high water," he added.

HEAVY RAINFALL

Houston could be blasted with 8 to 12 inches of rain, and nearby areas could see as much as 24 inches, according to AccuWeather.

Parts of the middle and upper Texas coastline are expected to be pounded by up to 16 inches of rainfall, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches through the middle of the week.

Across the rest of coastal Texas into southwest Louisiana, rainfall of 5 to 10 inches is expected.

"Considerable" flash and urban flooding, especially in highly urbanized metropolitan areas, is possible, the hurricane center said. River flooding is also a concern.

Storm Nicholas comes as Louisiana is still reeling from the devastating Hurricane Ida, which struck two weeks ago and still leaves more than 100,000 homes and businesses without power.

The storm killed 26 people in the state and more than 45 others in the northeast. 

LOUISIANA BRACES FOR MORE DEVASTATION

On Sunday, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and urged residents of the Pelican State to "take necessary measures to protect their home or business from additional harm."

Edwards added that the areas most impacted by Ida would likely feel the effects of Nicholas.

The National Weather Service in New Orleans, an area ravaged by Ida, said there was potential for coastal flooding of up to 3 feet above normal conditions. The weather service also said flash flooding was possible.

In Texas, several public school systems in Galveston and in the Houston area shut down for the day on Monday or planned early releases.

The Houston Independent School District tweeted that campuses and district offices will remain open,but said school officials will "continue to monitor the weather and share important updates on our district’s social media and website."

Texas A&M University-Kingsville has canceled all classes and the school's Corpus Christi campus has switched to remote learning for the day. 

ACTIVE HURRICANE SEASON

Nicholas comes as the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season.

Since 1966, only four other years have had 14 named stormed by September 12. They are 2005, 2011, 2012, and 2020.

And there could be more in the days and weeks ahead, with the National Hurricane Center currently monitoring three other systems in the Atlantic.

Two of the systems have the chance of developing into tropical depressions later this week, NHC says.

The next names in the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season will be Odette and Peter.


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