The Texas Gulf Coast and southwestern Louisiana are under threat Monday, with Tropical Storm Nicholas bringing a “life-threatening storm surge, isolated tornadoes, and significant heavy rain up to 20 inches in places,” the National Weather Service said.
Nicholas could strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall on the northwest Gulf coast later today, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is large, projecting tropical-storm-force winds up to 115 miles from its center.
A hurricane watch is in effect from Port Aransas (east of Corpus Christi) to Freeport (southwest of Galveston). Other alerts include the Houston metro area, which was soaked by Hurricane Harvey four years ago.
Nicholas is currently in the western Gulf of Mexico, roughly 40 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and is moving north-northwest at just 5 mph, the NHC said in its 8 a.m. ET update.
Nicholas will trigger “considerable flash and urban flooding” as it brings total rainfall of 8 to 16 inches across coastal areas in middle and upper Texas over several days this week, the NHC said.
For a broader section of the coast, including southwest Louisiana, people should expect to see 5 to 10 inches of rain, the agency said.
“This is a life-threatening situation,” the NHC said, urging people in areas under broad storm surge warnings to act now to protect life and property, and to obey any local evacuation orders.
As of Monday morning, the storm was moving both slowly and erratically, the hurricane center said. Forecasters expect Nicholas to gain a bit of forward speed and move more to the north — a pivot that will largely determine which areas are hit the hardest.
The system is expected to make landfall late Monday afternoon or in the evening. But before it does so, Nicholas will likely move along the shore, dropping significant amounts of rain on the coasts of northeastern Mexico and south Texas, the NHC said.