Tropical Storm Nicholas churns toward Texas coast

TEXAS (REUTERS) – Tropical Storm Nicholas churned through the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday (Sept 12) headed for an expected landfall along the Texas shoreline by late Monday or early Tuesday, two weeks after Hurricane Ida lashed coastal areas of neighboring Louisiana.

A storm-surge warning was posted on Sunday for a 70-mile (122km) stretch of the South Texas coast, from Port Aransas to Matagorda Bay, forecasting an immediate, life-threatening flood danger from high surf driven inland ahead of the weather system.

Inundation as high as 5 feet (1.5m) was possible in some places at high tide, according to the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Nicholas, the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, also was expected to unleash heavy rainfall across Texas – up to 20 inches in scattered areas – from Sunday through the middle of the week, the NHC said in its latest advisory.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 kph) on Sunday afternoon, Nicholas was on track to brush the Gulf coast of northeastern Mexico and South Texas on Monday before moving ashore in southern or central Texas Monday night or early Tuesday, the NHC said.

Forecasters said Nicholas could near hurricane strength by the time it makes landfall, if it veers slightly to the east of its current coarse, allowing the storm to draw additional energy from warm Gulf waters before moving ashore.

On its current trajectory, the storm is forecast to pass near the Gulf Coast cities of Corpus Christie and Galveston, home to many oil refineries and chemical plants. But NHC’s three-day rainfall outlook showed the storm posing its greatest flash-flood risk to Houston and surrounding areas.

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Earlier this month, the US Gulf Coast energy production industry struggled with an uneven recovery from Hurricane Ida as a lack of crews, power and fuel left most oil and gas production in the region remained knocked out for days after that storm had passed.

More than two-dozen fatalities in Louisiana were attributed to Ida, which came ashore Aug 29 as a Category 4 hurricane, with at least 50 more people killed along the US Eastern seaboard, most of them in flash flooding triggered by torrential downpours as remnants of the storm moved farther north.


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