As Hurricane Nicholas approaches Texas, flood and storm surge warnings have been issued.
As it raced up the Texas coast hours before its predicted impact, Storm Nicholas developed to a hurricane on Monday, with meteorologists warning of dangerous rainfall amounts.
Nicholas was forecast to bring maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour) and up to 18 inches (460 millimeters) of rain to the Houston region, according to meteorological officials.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Nicholas is bringing “heavy rains, strong gusts, and storm surges to areas of the central and upper Texas coasts.”
Its newest alert cautioned that “life-threatening flash flooding impacts, particularly in heavily urbanized metropolitan areas, are possible.”
In portions of Texas and western Louisiana, total rainfall of six to twelve inches is forecast, with isolated maximum amounts of 18 inches.
“This rainfall might result in significant flash and urban flooding,” the center warned.
The hurricane’s core was 20 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Matagorda, on the Gulf of Mexico, at 0300 GMT Tuesday, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.
Matagorda is located just a few miles southwest of Houston, the state capital of Texas.
The National Hurricane Center also issued a storm surge warning for parts of the Gulf Shore, indicating that “rising water moving inland from the coast poses a risk of life-threatening inundation.”
It warned residents in the area to “take all necessary precautions to safeguard life and property from rising water and the potential for additional harmful conditions.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, whose city was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, said the city was on high alert.
Barricades have been built, Houston’s emergency management office has been activated, and people have been advised to take extra safety precautions.
Turner wrote, “I advise everyone to be OFF the roads by sundown and to avoid traveling tonight and tomorrow as we anticipate significant rain.”
Many flights were canceled at Houston-area airports as a result of the storm’s impending approach, and the Houston ship channel at the major port was blocked, according to a spokeswoman for the agency that guides ships through the waterway.
Schools in the storm-affected area were shuttered Monday afternoon and will be closed again on Tuesday, according to officials.
Customers flocked to petrol stations and supermarkets across the region to refuel their vehicles and stock up on essentials such as bottle water, toilet paper, and perishables like milk and eggs.
Hurricanes are nothing new in Texas, but experts warn that climate change is making storms stronger, posing a greater risk to coastal populations.
Coastlines are already being harmed. Brief News from Washington Newsday.