Tropical Storm Nicholas slows down and pours rain along the Gulf Coast

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SURFSIDE BEACH, Texas (AP) – Tropical Storm Nicholas slowed over the Houston area on Tuesday after making landfall earlier as a hurricane, cutting power to half a million homes and businesses and dumping over a foot (30.5 centimeters) of rain along the same area flooded by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Nicholas could potentially stall in storm-battered Louisiana and bring deadly flooding to the Deep South over the next few days, forecasters said.

Nicholas made landfall early Tuesday in the eastern part of the Matagorda Peninsula and was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm. It was about 30 miles (55 kilometers) southeast of Houston, with maximum winds of 40 mph (65 km / h) at 1 p.m. CDT Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Galveston, Texas, saw nearly 14 inches (35 centimeters) of rain from Nicholas, the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, while Houston reported more than 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain. That’s a fraction of what fell during Harvey, which dumped more than 60 inches (152 centimeters) of rain in Southeast Texas over a four-day period.

In the small coastal town of Surfside Beach, about 105 miles south of Houston, Kirk Klaus, 59, and his wife Monica Klaus, 62, weathered the storm at their two-bedroom home, which is about 6 to 8 meters tall. feet. (1.8 to 2.4 meters) above the ground on stilts.

“It was bad. I will never do it again,” Kirk Klaus said.

He said it had rained all day Monday and as the night wore on the precipitation and winds got worse.

At around 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, high winds blew two of the windows in her home, letting the rain in and forcing the couple to continually wipe their floors. Klaus said the precipitation and winds created a storm surge of about 2 feet in front of his house.

“It looked like a river here,” he said.

Nicholas is moving so slowly that he will pour several inches of rain as he crawls over Texas and southern Louisiana, meteorologists said. This includes areas already hit by Hurricane Ida and devastated last year by hurricane Laura. Parts of Louisiana are saturated with nowhere additional water can go, so it will be inundated, said Brian McNoldy, hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.

“He’s stuck in a weak management environment,” McNoldy said Tuesday. So while the storm itself may weaken, “that won’t stop the rain from happening.” Whether it’s a tropical storm, tropical depression, or post-tropical drop, it will always rain a lot and that’s not really good for this region.

The storm was moving east-northeast at 7 mph (11 km / h), and the Nicholas center was expected to move slowly over southeastern Texas on Tuesday and southwestern Louisiana on Wednesday.

More than half a million homes and businesses had lost power in Texas, but that number fell to about 375,000 as of noon Tuesday, according to the poweroutage.us website which tracks utility reports. Most of those blackouts were caused by strong winds as the storm moved overnight, utility officials said. Across Louisiana, about 100,000 customers went without power Tuesday noon.

Nicholas brought rain to the same area of ​​Texas that was hit hard by Harvey, who was responsible for at least 68 deaths, including 36 in the Houston area. After Harvey, voters approved the issuance of $ 2.5 billion of bonds to fund flood control projects, including bayous expansion. The 181 projects designed to mitigate damage from future storms are at various stages of completion.

McNoldy, the hurricane researcher, said Nicholas brought in much less rain than Harvey.

“It’s not crazy amounts of rain. It is nothing like Hurricane Harvey with rain feet, ”McNoldy said. Harvey not only stalled for three days in the same area, he moved back into the Gulf of Mexico a bit, allowing him to recharge with more water. Nicholas won’t do that, McNoldy said.

Nicholas, which is expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Tuesday evening, could dump up to 20 inches of rain in parts of southern Louisiana. Forecasters said southern Mississippi, southern Alabama and western Florida could also experience heavy rainfall.

Heavy rains from Nicholas on Tuesday threw blue tarps that covered roofs damaged by Ida across southern Louisiana.

Ida destroyed a building and left holes in the roof of the main factory of Motivatit Seafoods, a family-owned oyster wholesaler in Houma, Louisiana. With rain from Nicholas pouring down on the high pressure processing equipment, owner Steven Voisin said he was unsure if the machines could be saved after the latest wave of tropical weather.

“And a lot of people here in New Orleans have this or more damage,” he said. “They are not going to recover quickly or easily.”

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Sunday night, before the storm arrived in a state.

On Monday, Misty Tran dreaded the idea of ​​Nicholas extending as far east as his house south of New Orleans in Empire, Louisiana. Ida damaged the roof of Tran’s mobile home. A tarp is covering the roof now, Tran said, but that wouldn’t be a match for even a weak storm.

“A tarp can’t do much,” said Tran, helping clean up at a marina where she works.

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Associated Press editors Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, Jay Reeves in Houma, Louisiana, Julie Walker in New York City, and AP science writer Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70



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