HOUSTON — Hurricane Nicholas, now a tropical storm, made landfall along the Texas coast on Tuesday, bringing the threat of up to 20 inches of rainfall to parts of the Gulf Coast, including the same area hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and storm-battered Louisiana. The storm could also cause life-threatening flash floods across the deep south.
Nicholas touched down on the eastern part of the Matagorda Peninsula and is now about 30 miles south southwest of Houston, Texas, with maximum winds of 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Nicholas was the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
The storm was moving north northeast at 9 mph and the center of Nicholas was expected to move slowly over southeastern Texas on Tuesday and over southwestern Louisiana on Wednesday.
The biggest unknown about Nicholas was how much rainfall it would produce in Texas, especially in flood-prone Houston.
Nearly all of the state’s coastline was under a tropical storm warning that included potential flash floods and urban flooding. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said authorities placed rescue teams and resources in the Houston area and along the coast.
In Houston, officials worried that heavy rain expected to arrive by Tuesday could inundate streets and flood homes.
Authorities deployed high-water rescue vehicles throughout the city and erected barricades at more than 40 locations that tend to flood, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
“This city is very resilient. We know what we need to do. We know about preparing,” said Turner, referencing four major flood events that have hit the Houston area in recent years, including devastating damage from Harvey.
Meteorologist Kent Prochazka of the National Weather Service told The Associated Press early Tuesday that multiple trees were down along coastal counties and the winds have caused some gas stations to lose awnings and have caused extensive power outages.
CenterPoint Energy reports that over 300,000 customers have lost power as the storm roll through Houston and that it expects those numbers will continue to rise.
Numerous school districts along the Texas Gulf Coast canceled classes Monday because of the incoming storm. The Houston school district, the state’s largest, as well as others, announced that classes would be canceled on Tuesday. The weather threat also closed multiple COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites in the Houston and Corpus Christi areas and forced the cancellation of a Harry Styles concert scheduled for Monday evening in Houston.
Six to 12 inches of rain were expected along the middle and upper Texas coast, with isolated maximum amounts of 18 inches possible. Other parts of southeast Texas and south-central Louisiana and southern Mississippi could see 4 to 8 inches over the coming days.
A tornado or two may be possible Tuesday along the upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coast, according to the weather service.
“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 had many other storms,” Abbott said during a news conference in Houston.