Forecasters: Tropical Storm Nicholas forms in Gulf of Mexico


MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Storm Nicholas formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, threatening heavy rain and floods in coastal areas of Texas, Mexico and Louisiana.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said tropical storm warnings were issued for coastal Texas and the northeast coast of Mexico. Nicholas is expected to produce total rainfall of 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters), with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches, across portions of coastal Texas into southwest Louisiana on Sunday through midweek.

The storm is projected to move slowly up the coastland which could dump torrential amounts of rain over several days, said meteorologist Donald Jones of the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, La.

“Heavy rain, flash flooding appears to be the biggest threat across our region with Nicholas,” he said.

The storm has the potential to dump as much as 15 to 25 inches (38 to 64 centimeters) of rain over several days in isolated areas either in southeast Texas or southwest Louisiana, he said.

At 11 a.m. EDT, the storm was located about 130 miles (205 kilometers) northeast of Veracruz, Mexico and 405 miles (650 kilometers) south-southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande River. Its maximum sustained winds were clocked at 40 mph (65 kph) and it was moving north-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott placed rescue teams and emergency medical groups on standby along the length of the Texas Gulf Coast.

“We will continue to closely monitor this storm and take all necessary precautions to keep Texans safe,” Abbott said in a statement. “I encourage Texans to follow the guidance and warnings of their local officials and be mindful of potential heavy rain and flooding.”

The threat of a new storm surge cametwo weeks after Hurricane Ida slammed into Louisiana, toppling homes, paralyzing electrical and water infrastructure and leaving at least 26 people dead. Across Louisiana, 140,198 customers — or about 6.3% of the state — remained without power on Sunday morning, according to the Louisiana Public Service Commission

Bob Henson, a meteorologist at Yale Climate Connections, said in an email that the heaviest rainfall would mostly likely hit southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana, where some localized amounts could hit 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimeters) or more over the next several days.

“Further east, there could be several inches of rain across southeast Louisiana, where Ida struck,” Henson said.

Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said via Twitter that Nicholas is the 14th named storm of 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Only 4 other years since 1966 have had 14 or more named storms by Sept. 12: 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2020.

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