More than 100,000 Texas electricity customers without power after Nicholas. Restoring it to everyone could take days.
Texas was spared from mass destruction once the storm came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane. But it caused enough damage to disrupt electricity for a large swath of the Texas coast, including the Houston and Galveston areas.
Many Texans along the coast still without electricity Tuesday night
More than 100,000 Texas electricity customers remained without power late Tuesday in Galveston, Houston and along the Texas coast, transmission company CenterPoint Energy reported, after Nicholas stormed through the region.
The company warned that some customers may face outages for days, but also said it hoped to restore electricity to most customers much faster.
“We are dedicated to turning the lights back on and thank you for your patience as we work quickly and safely to make repairs,” the company tweeted earlier in the day.
Downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, Nicholas moved east near Port Arthur toward Louisiana on Tuesday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour, according to a 4 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.
Gov. Greg Abbott warned Texans after the NHC update that “we are not yet in the clear.” Abbott added Liberty and Wharton counties to his disaster declaration he originally issued on Monday for counties impacted by the storm. — Mitchell Ferman
Nicholas weakens, heads toward Louisiana
Nicholas had significantly weakened Tuesday morning, with maximum sustained winds falling to 45 mph as of 10 a.m. — down from 60 mph a few hours earlier. The National Weather Service expects to downgrade Nicholas from a tropical storm to a tropical depression by Tuesday night.
Still, the storm is considered life-threatening, with storm surge and tropical storm warnings in effect along some areas of the Texas coast and in parts of central and southern Louisiana. Nicholas was 10 miles southeast of Houston as of 10 a.m., the National Weather Service said.
The Texas coast experienced limited damage from the storm. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during a Tuesday press conference that no fatalities have been reported in the county, and that while there is some debris on the road, “we are grateful the impacts were not worse.”
Some river flooding and up to 10 inches of rainfall are expected across the South from Louisiana to the western Florida panhandle through Thursday — with some areas of Louisiana projected to get up to 20 inches of rain. — Joshua Fechter and Erin Douglas
Half a million customers without power
More than 500,000 customers were without power Tuesday morning as Tropical Storm Nicholas swept across the central and east Texas coast, according to poweroutage.us, a site that aggregates power outage data from utility companies.
More than 400,000 customers in the Houston region were without power as of 7 a.m., according to CenterPoint Energy.
Crews have begun to assess the damage from the storm and restore electricity to vital infrastructure such as hospitals and water treatment facilities, according to a CenterPoint energy statement issued Tuesday morning. After restoring power to facilities important to public safety, repairs will be prioritized to return power to the largest number of customers at a time, until power is returned to everyone.
Utilities warned customers to stay away from downed power lines.
“Patience will be important as some areas of our system and equipment may be difficult to reach for our crews due to safety-related issues, such as downed trees,” Kenny Mercado, executive vice president of electric utility at CenterPoint Energy, said in a statement.
Matagorda County had the highest percentage of outages, with about 88% of customers without power Tuesday morning, or about 18,000 customers — down from more than 99% before dawn. Wharton, Brazoria, Austin and Chambers counties all experienced widespread outages — between 72% and 86% of customers in those counties were without power Tuesday morning.
AEP Texas, the utility provider for much of the Texas Coastal Bend region including Matagorda County, wrote in a tweet that once it is safe to work outside, crews will begin to restore power to customers, prioritizing essential infrastructure first, and then the greatest number of customers. — Erin Douglas
Nicholas moving slowly toward Houston
Tropical storm Nicholas is slowly moving toward the Houston metropolitan region, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm was about 15 miles south-southwest of Houston at 7 a.m. Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. A weather station near Galveston Bay recorded a one-minute sustained wind of 39 mph and a gust of 52 mph.
The National Weather Service originally reported Tuesday morning that Galveston received at more than a foot of rain from Nicholas, but later revised that estimate down to closer to 4 inches. Meanwhile, Harris County, which includes Houston, saw between 3 and 6 inches of rain, according to a NWS late-morning update. In Deer Park, 9.85 inches of rain were recorded.
Widespread minor flooding and isolated river flooding are expected across the upper Texas Gulf Coast and southern Louisiana and Mississippi. Nicholas is expected to dump 5 to 10 inches of rain on upper Texas coastal areas. Southern Louisiana could see as much as 20 inches of rain from the storm.
Schools in the Houston region were closed Tuesday, and some flights have been canceled at both of Houston’s major airports, George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport.
Officials have urged Texans affected by the storm to stay home and remain off the roads. Much of southeast Houston and areas surrounding Galveston Bay are under a flash flood warning until 9 a.m.
“We are seeing debris on roads, flooded roadways, outages, and strong winds in various parts of Harris County. Please stay off the roads through the morning until the storm passes,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wrote in a tweet Tuesday morning.
Nicholas should continue moving north-northeast Tuesday morning, and then turn eastward toward Louisiana. — Erin Douglas
Nicholas likely to bring “life-threatening” flash floods across the South
Tropical Storm Nicholas made landfall in Matagorda County overnight. The storm was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm after making landfall and is moving slowly to the north-northeast.
Dangerous storm surge may still be a threat in coastal areas from about Matagorda to Port Arthur.
Power outages were widespread across the central and eastern Texas coast Tuesday morning as Nicholas swept eastward.
More than 400,000 customers in the Houston region were without power as of 7 a.m., according to CenterPoint Energy.
In Matagorda County, 99% of customers were without power, or more than 16,000 customers, according to poweroutage.us, a site that aggregates power outages based on information provided by utility companies.
Houston was seeing only light rain before dawn Tuesday; the heaviest rain was falling on the Beaumont-Port Arthur area and eastern Louisiana. Heavy rainfall is expected across the upper coast of Texas and across Louisiana into southern Mississippi and southern Alabama through the middle of the week, according to the National Hurricane Center. — Erin Douglas
Large swath of Texas faces risk of floods as Hurricane Nicholas bears down
Nicholas strengthened into a hurricane late Monday near Matagorda Bay before it was expected to make landfall on the Texas coast overnight, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Into Wednesday, forecasters expect the storm to dump 6 to 12 inches of rain, with isolated areas receiving about 18 inches of rain, across the upper Texas coastal areas.
“Life-threatening flash flooding impacts, especially in urbanized metropolitan areas, are possible across portions of the upper Texas Gulf Coast into far southwestern Louisiana,” the hurricane center said in a 10 p.m. Monday update.
The storm had sustained winds of 75 mph and even stronger gusts Monday night. Winds over 74 mph would make a storm a Category 1 hurricane.
Before the storm strengthened late Monday night, tens of thousands of Texans were without electricity as power outages were reported across the Coastal Bend in places such as Bay City, Galveston and the greater Houston area, according to transmission companies CenterPoint Energy and AEP Texas and the tracker poweroutage.us.
In Matagorda Beach, the storm flooded streets with strong rain gusts and debris from the beach, according to videos by meteorologist and storm chaser Reed Timmer on Twitter. The National Hurricane Center said Matagorda Beach and surrounding areas could see up to 5 feet of life-threatening storm surge as water moves inland from the coastline.
— Mitchell Ferman and Kailyn Rhone
Gov. Greg Abbott issues disaster declaration for 17 Texas counties
Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for 17 counties Monday as Tropical Storm Nicholas threatens severe damage for a large swath of the state. Those counties were: Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Galveston, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio and Victoria. The state will add more counties if needed, his office said.
Abbott cited the possibility of property damage and death from flash floods, storm surge and wind damage in issuing the declaration.
"The State of Texas is working closely with officials on the ground to provide the resources and support needed to keep our communities safe," Abbott said in a press release. "But it is up to all Texans in the path of this storm to take precautions, heed the guidance of officials, and remain vigilant as this severe weather moves through Texas." — Kailyn Rhone
Texans face flash floods, potential power outages from Tropical Storm Nicholas
As Tropical Storm Nicholas begins battering the Texas Gulf Coast, the Texas Division of Emergency Management is telling Texans to avoid low-lying areas, to not drive into water and to listen to warnings from local officials.
Many school districts near the coast canceled classes Monday, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times. Some, including the Houston school district, have already canceled Tuesday classes.
The Texas power grid operator and energy companies that deliver electricity to Texans are reminding customers to report outages or emergencies such as downed power lines or gas leaks to local electric providers.
The storm is also threatening scores of petrochemical plants and facilities storing oil and gas along the Texas coast. The Port of Corpus Christi, a leading oil export hub, entered “high readiness” ahead of the storm’s arrival. — Mitchell Ferman
Tropical Storm Nicholas could deluge parts of Texas with heavy rainfall
Texans along the Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi to the Louisiana border are bracing for Tropical Storm Nicholas, which meteorologists say is gaining strength and could turn into a hurricane when it makes landfall tonight near Matagorda Bay with winds potentially exceeding 60 miles per hour.
The latest update from forecasters with the National Hurricane Center warned of potential life-threatening storm surge between Port Aransas and the Louisiana border, a large stretch of the Texas coast, as water moves inland from the coastline.
Forecasters with the hurricane center predict the storm could dump 6 inches to 12 inches of rain, with up to 18 inches of rain in certain areas along the coast as it moves east into Louisiana and Mississippi. Life-threatening flash floods could impact portions of the coast around Galveston and through Southeast Texas into Louisiana. — Mitchell Ferman
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