Updated Sep 14, 2021 - Science

Nicholas strengthens into a hurricane as it nears Texas

 A car speeds through a flooded street ahead of the Tropical Storm Nicholas on September 13, 2021 in Galveston, Texas.

A car speeds through a flooded street ahead of the Tropical Storm Nicholas on September 13, 2021 in Galveston, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Nicholas strengthened into a hurricane as it neared Texas' coast late Monday, per the National Hurricane Center.

The latest: The storm was expected to make landfall along the Texas coast in a the next few hours, the NHC said in an 11p.m. update. It was already bringing heavy rains, strong winds and storm surges to parts of the central and upper Texas coast.

  • Over 100,000 customers had lost power in the state on Tuesday morning, per utility tracking site poweroutage.us.

The big picture: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday issued a state disaster declaration for 17 counties.

  • President Biden approved late Monday a disaster declaration for Louisiana, which is still reeling from last month's deadly Hurricane Ida.
  • Some 95,000 customers were without power in Louisiana on Tuesday morning, according to poweroutage.us.

State of play: The storm, which formed on Sunday in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was located about 20 miles southeast of Matagorda, Texas, at 11 p.m. ET, per the NHC.

  • "A Weatherflow station at Matagorda Bay recently reported a 1-minute sustained wind of 76 mph ... gusting to 95 mph," the agency noted.

What to watch: Hurricane watches, along with storm surge warnings and watches were issued for parts of Texas. A storm surge watch was also in effect for portions of Louisiana.

  • Nicholas was forecast to bring six to 12 inches of rainfall, with isolated areas getting up to 18 inches, according to the NHC.
  • The storm is expected to weaken on Tuesday and Wednesday as it moves inland.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: This slow-moving storm poses a serious flood risk to coastal areas of Texas and, subsequently, Louisiana.

  • Nicholas' slow movement will allow copious amounts of Gulf moisture to flow inland.
  • Studies show tropical storms and hurricanes are dropping more rain as the climate warms due to human activities.

Go deeper: Extreme summer weather's climate change links

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.

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