Hurricane Nicholas has made landfall along the Texas coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Tuesday, hours after strengthening from a tropical storm.
Nicholas touched down on the eastern part of the Matagorda Peninsula, about 10 miles (17 kilometers) west southwest of Sargent Beach, Texas, with maximum winds of 75 mph (120 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Nicholas was she 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
“Weakening is expected during the next couple of days as Nicholas moves over land,” the NHC said.
Nicholas is expected to bring up to 20 inches of rain to the Gulf Coast of Texas while also threatening Louisiana with heavy rain and winds, along with possible widespread and life-threatening flooding.
“It will be a very slow-moving storm across the state of Texas that will linger for several days and drop a tremendous amount of rain,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Monday afternoon. “People in the region need to be prepared for extreme high-water events.”
Abbott declared states of emergency in 17 counties and three cities across coastal Texas, adding that boat and helicopter rescue teams have been deployed or placed on standby.
As Nicholas moves northeast, it was expected to dump as much as 10 inches on parts of south central Louisiana and southern Mississippi through Thursday, the NHC said.
The National Weather Service issued storm surge, flood and tropical storm warnings and watches throughout the region, calling it a “life-threatening situation.”
Nicholas is the second hurricane in as many weeks to threaten the U.S. Gulf Coast. Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc in late August, killing more than two dozen people as it devastated communities in Louisiana near New Orleans.
“We want to make sure that no one is caught off guard by this storm,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said at a news briefing on Monday afternoon. “Heavy rainfall will be the primary concern.”
Edwards warned that drainage systems still clogged with debris from Ida and other recent storms may not be able to handle the expected deluge of rainwater, causing flash flooding.
Teams of rescue workers with high-water vehicles and boats were prepared to respond to people trapped by flooding across southern Louisiana, Edwards said.