Tropical Storm Nicholas gathered strength Monday and threatened to blow ashore in Texas as a hurricane that could bring up to 20 inches of rain to parts of the Gulf Coast, including the same area hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and storm-battered Louisiana. Nearly all of the state’s coastline was under a tropical storm warning that included potential flash floods and urban flooding, the AP reports. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said authorities placed rescue teams and resources in the Houston area and along the coast.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday afternoon that the system's top sustained winds had reached 60mph. If the winds hit 74mph, the storm would become a Category 1 hurricane. It was "moving erratically” just offshore, the hurricane center said, on a track to pass near the South Texas coast later in the day, then move onshore in the evening. Eight to 16 inches of rain were expected along the middle and upper Texas coast, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches possible. Other parts of southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana could see 5 to 10 inches over the coming days.
In flood-prone Houston, officials worried that heavy rain expected to arrive late Monday and early 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. The Houston school district, the state’s largest, announced that classes would be canceled on Tuesday.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Sunday night, ahead of the storm's arrival in a state still recovering from Hurricane Ida and last year's Hurricane Laura and historic flooding. The storm was expected to bring the heaviest rainfall west of where Ida slammed into Louisiana two weeks ago. Across Louisiana, almost 120,000 customers remained without power Monday morning, according to the utility tracking site poweroutage.us. (Read more tropical storms stories.)