Nicholas becomes hurricane ahead of Texas landfall

Nicholas has strengthened into a hurricane late Monday ahead of making landfall along the central Texas coast in the coming hours, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory. The storm is threatening the region with “life-threatening” rainfall, strong winds and storm surges to portions of the central and upper Texas coasts, forecasters said. Millions of residents are under flash flood warnings.

As of late Monday, Nicholas was about 20 miles south-southwest of Matagorda, Texas, and about 45 miles southwest of Freeport, Texas, packing maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, the hurricane center said. The storm could produce 6 to 12 inches, with as much as 18 inches in isolated areas, across the Texas coast.

Forecasters said “life-threatening” flash flooding is possible along the upper Texas coast and southern-central Louisiana. They said southeast Texas, southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi could see 4 to 8 inches of rain. A hurricane warning is in effect from Port O’Connor to Freeport, Texas, according to officials.

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Satellite image of Hurricane Nicholas as seen on Monday, September 13, 2021. NOAA

“There are people who do drive into high water and they sometimes lose their vehicles and even worse sometimes lose their lives,” Governor Greg Abbott said Monday.

The Gulf Coast is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Ida. In southeast Louisiana, more than 130,000 buildings are still without power, officials said Sunday. Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency and is urging residents to prepare for possible flooding and heavy rain.

“One of the things we have to guard against is dismissing the threat of this storm because it is not projected currently to reach hurricane strength before it makes landfall,” Edwards said.

Nicholas is the 14th named storm of the season, a number usually hit later in mid-November.