Tropical Storm Nicholas gained strength to become a hurricane and made landfall on the coast of Texas overnight.
Nicholas made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph after midnight about 20 miles northeast of Matagorda, Texas, drenching the upper Texas coast and parts of Louisiana, with gusty winds hammering the region.
PowerOutage.us reported 339,460 power failures in Texas and 96,118 power failures in Louisiana.
Hours later, Nicholas lost wind intensity and was reclassified as a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 70 mph.
Nicholas, the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, is expected to bring in heavy rain and potentially damaging flooding from southeast Texas into Louisiana and Mississippi in the next couple of days, according to weather forecasts.
“Nicholas could cause life-threatening flash floods across the Deep south during the next couple of days,” the US National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory.
The storm should move more slowly to the northeast later today and then eastward by Wednesday over Louisiana, it added.
Widespread river flooding is expected across parts of the upper Texas Gulf Coast, southern Louisiana and Mississippi.
President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Louisiana and ordered federal assistance to supplement State and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said that Nicholas will likely be weakening into a depression as its center slowly moves into Louisiana early Wednesday morning and will exit into Southern Mississippi by Thursday morning.
“Life-threatening rainfall is our primary concern Tuesday through Thursday, with between six and 10 inches likely across Southwest and South Louisiana,” he said at a news conference.
Louisiana continues to recover from Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Ida, with many homes and businesses still damaged from these events. Heavy rainfall could complicate current storm recovery.
Edwards warned that storm debris from Ida could be blocking drainage systems, causing rainwater to accumulate more quickly than normal, which will potentially enhance the flash flooding threat.
He also warned that because of the heavy rainfall this storm will bring, flash flooding will be the greatest threat Louisiana facing. It also has the potential to cause river flooding in Southwest and Southeast Louisiana, he added.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the tropical storm is expected to bring heavy rain and potential flooding over the next three days.
He issued a disaster declaration in 17 counties to ensure Texas has the resources needed to respond to the extreme weather.
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