Tropical Storm Nicholas forms over Gulf of Mexico, with Texas in its path

A 14th named storm in the Atlantic basin, the total number of storms in an average season,typically doesn’t form until November 18.

The storm had a high chance of forming over the past 24 hours and when NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters flew into the storm Sunday morning, readings showed the disturbance reached tropical storm status.

A tropical storm warning is in effect from the mouth of the Rio Grande to Port Aransas in Texas, with winds of at least 39 mph expected within 36 hours.

Storm surge and tropical storm watches have also been issued, meaning dangerous life-threatening storm surge and tropical-storm-force winds are possible within 48 hours, respectively.

The hurricane center predicts the storm will intensify to 65 mph by Tuesday morning, located at or just offshore from the southern Texas coast.

“With the exact track of Nicholas still uncertain, we still have a possibility of further strengthening if this storm stays offshore further northward,” said CNN meteorologist Tom Sater. “Nicholas will be entering some of the warmest waters of the Gulf.”

The center of the storm should move through or near Texas, on Monday evening for southern Texas and Tuesday for upper portions of the coast.

Heavy rain will be the main threat, with a widespread 5 to 10 inches expected for coastal Texas, with localized areas of up to 15 inches.

The Weather Prediction Center on said Sunday the risk for excessive rainfall was raised to a Level 3 of 4 for coastal sections of Texas from Monday through at least Tuesday night.

“This brings 48 hour totals for some areas to 9 to 12 inches, which could lead to significant flooding concerns, especially for urban areas like the Houston metro,” the Center said.

It’s still uncertain where the heaviest of the rain will fall and how much, but some locations will get at least 15 inches by the end of the week.

A flash flood watch is currently in effect for at least eight million people from the US-Mexico border in Texas through southwestern Louisiana, including Houston, Corpus Christi and Brownsville, Texas, and and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The remainder of southern Louisiana, including New Orleans, will also be at risk for periods of heavy rain, but the threat of flash flooding is not as significant.

Forecast rainfall through Wednesday from Tropical Storm Nicholas.

A flash flood watch is in effect for the coastal region of Texas, including Houston and Corpus Christi, and southwestern Louisiana, which includes Lake Charles.

“Even with an earlier landfall in southern Texas, this storm has the potential for widespread flash flooding. Houston can easily have problems with 4 to 5 inches of rain,” says Sater. “More than that will create bigger problems.”

Storm surge will also be a risk, with 2 to 4 feet forecast from the US-Mexico border through High Island, Texas.

Showers and thunderstorms will begin to move into coastal Texas and Louisiana Sunday afternoon, but storms will remain in the forecast through much of this week.

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