Tropical Storm Nicholas Has the Western Gulf Coast in its Sights

Posted: September 13, 2021 11:30 am

Houston looks to be in the crosshairs for the newly formed Tropical Storm Nicholas. The storm formed Sunday morning over the southwestern corner of the Gulf of Mexico, becoming the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Nicolas Details

Nicholas was positioned about 160 miles east-southeast of La Pesca, Mexico on Sunday evening. This location put the storm about 240 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande River. Nicolas is packing maximum sustained winds of about 40 mph as it treks to the north and northwest at 14 mph. The tropical-storm-force winds are stretching up to 100 miles from the center of the storm system.

Nicholas Predictions

Tropical Storm Nicolas is forecast to deliver heavy rain and the potential of flooding to a large swath of land stretching from northeastern Mexico, along the Texas and Louisiana coasts, and into New Orleans. The city of Houston is forecast to take the brunt of the storm.

As a result of the impending arrival of Nicholas, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued a tropical storm warning for the coast of Texas beginning at the Rio Grande River and expanding to Port Aransas. In addition, a tropical storm watch is now in effect for the region north of Port Aransas to High Island, Texas.

The Predicted Path of Nicholas

Nicholas is predicted to continue its path to the north while retaining its tropical storm status through at least Monday. The presence of strong wind shear will likely prevent Nicholas from strengthening into a hurricane before it makes landfall.

The storm will stay on a northward path as it inches past Tampico, Mexico, bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to this coastal area. Nicholas is expected to strengthen a bit on Monday as the wind shear in the area lessens.

Tropical Storm Nicholas is forecast to make landfall somewhere along the Texas coast between Corpus Christi and Galveston. The storm will likely come onto shore late Monday or early Tuesday. However, the impacts are already being felt in some coastal areas. The slow and slogging nature of this storm will mean that heavy rainfall and flooding will be the biggest threats.

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Stormy and unsettled weather will be the story on Monday for cities such as Houston, New Orleans, and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Flash Flooding a Possibility

Houston is forecast to see 8 to 12 inches of rain as a result of Nicholas. The region that saw the heaviest rains two weeks ago when Hurricane Ida roared onto shore will be spared the bulk of the precipitation associated with Nicholas.

Widespread flooding will also be a concern for areas that have seen their fair share of rain the last few months. This includes Victoria, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Both of these cities saw over 20 inches of rain in May, saturating the grounds and leaving the area vulnerable to heavy rain.

Other Area of Interest

Forecasters are also keeping a close watch on an area of low pressure that is projected to form over to the north of the central Bahamas. A tropical wave in the region is predicted to interact with an upper-level trough, raising the risk of a tropical depression taking root later in the week. The NHC puts the odds of this forming over the next five days at 50%. The system is predicted to move to the north and west across the Atlantic, potentially affecting the Carolina coast in the next several days.