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Nicholas is now a hurricane that threatens the Texas coast with heavy rain and storm surges


By Madeline Holcombe and Jackson Dill, CNN

Updated 0340 GMT (1140 HKT) September 14, 2021

(CNN)Nicholas has strengthened into a hurricane and is threatening to bring heavy rain, storm surges and strong winds to portions of the Texas Coast, the National Hurricane Center said late Monday.

Hurricane Nicholas — with wind speeds of 75 miles per hour — was located about 20 miles south east of Matagorda, Texas, and 45 miles southwest of Freeport, Texas, the center said in its 11 p.m. update.

“On the forecast track, the center of Nicholas is expected to make landfall along the Texas coast in a few hours, move over extreme southeastern Texas on Tuesday and early Wednesday, and over southwestern Louisiana later on Wednesday, the alert said.

The center warned that Nicholas could produce between 6-12 inches of rain — and as much as 18 inches in some areas — across the upper Texas coastline.
“Life-threatening flash flooding impacts, especially in urbanized metropolitan areas, are possible across portions of the upper Texas Gulf Coast into far southwestern Louisiana,” it said.

Houston prepares by lowering Lake Houston

Houston is preparing for moderate to heavy rain overnight from Nicholas, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Monday morning.

“This is a storm still with some unpredictability, but we know this is going to be primarily a rain event,” he said.

Everyone should wrap up what they’re doing by sundown so they can be home safe when the storm comes through, he said.

The city is preparing for the rain by lowering Lake Houston by 1 foot and deploying high-water equipment throughout the city because officials cannot pinpoint which locations will get more rain, the mayor said.

Houston Independent School District schools will be canceled Tuesday due to inclement weather, according to the school district’s website. All after-school activities Monday are canceled as well. The district is the largest district in Texas, with over 275 schools.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state has been preparing for Nicholas by mobilizing supplies, support and resources.

Abbott said he has been in touch with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo as well as other county judges along the Gulf Coast “to make sure that we’re working collaboratively, to make sure that at the local level, we will be prepared for whatever the storm may bring.”

President Biden was briefed on the storm this morning as part of a briefing on severe weather, a White House official says.

Nicholas, the Atlantic hurricane season’s 14th named storm, formed in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday. Typically, the 14th named storm doesn’t form until November 18, Brian McNoldy, senior research associate at University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School, said in a tweet.

Louisiana governor declares state of emergency

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Sunday ahead of Nicholas, he said in a news release.

“The most severe threat to Louisiana is in the Southwest portion of the state, where recovery from Hurricane Laura and the May flooding is ongoing. In this area heavy rain and flash flooding are possible. However, it is also likely that all of South Louisiana will see heavy rain this week, including areas recently affected by Hurricane Ida,” Edwards said.

Edwards also requested a federal pre-landfall declaration from President Joe Biden because of the threat of heavy rainfall and flash flooding in south and central Louisiana. If the Biden administration grants this declaration, it will let Louisiana move federal assets in the state to affected areas, the governor said.

“We wanted to make sure nobody is caught off guard by this storm,” he said.

Nicholas may affect efforts to restore power after Ida, Edwards said. More than 119,000 customers statewide still had no power Monday morning, he said.

A total of 31 people have died in Louisiana and Mississippi due to Ida, according to a CNN tally.

For Nicholas, the National Guard will stage 80 high-water vehicles, 23 boats and 15 aircraft by the end of the day, and will remain set to respond, Edwards said Monday.

That’s along with the ongoing Hurricane Ida recovery efforts of more than 8,200 service members, the governor said.

As of Monday morning, 1,425 individuals were still sheltered after Hurricane Ida damage.

“Obviously, our shelters are open, and they’re ready if necessary to be used for individuals who might have to relocate because of Tropical Storm Nicholas,” Edwards said.

(Courtesy CNN)

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