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Weather conditions are seen in Galveston, Texas, ahead of Hurricane Nicholas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Hurricane Nicholas made landfall near Sargent Beach, Texas, Tuesday morning — threatening to bring up to 18 inches of rainfall and flooding to parts of the state and Louisiana, per the National Hurricane Center.

What's happening: Heavy rains, high winds and "dangerous" storm surges were ongoing, said the NHC, confirming just before 2am that the Category 1 hurricane had hit the state. Nearly 200,000 customers had lost power in Texas by 3:30am, per the utility tracking site poweroutage.us.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Threat level: A hurricane warning was in effect from Port O'Connor to Freeport in Texas, and a hurricane watch was issued for Freeport to San Luis Pass in the state.

  • Most of the Texas coastline was under a tropical storm warning amid the threat of possible flash flooding and urban flooding.
  • Storm surge watches and warnings were in effect in the region, as well as in Louisiana, from Sabine Pass to Rutherford Beach.
  • "A tornado or two will be possible today along the upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coast," the NHC said.

State of play: The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 75mph, as the center of the storm moved about 25 miles west-southwest of Freeport at 2am ET, according to a National Hurricane Center advisory.

  • School districts, including Houston's, canceled classes for Tuesday due to the storm. Many COVID-19 testing and vaccination facilities in the city and also Corpus Christi also closed, AP notes.
  • The storm forced British singer Harry Styles to cancel his concert, which was due to be held in Houston on Monday evening.

What to watch: "Nicholas is expected to produce storm total rainfall of 6 to 12 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 18 inches, across the upper Texas coastal areas into Wednesday," the NHC said.

  • The storm is expected to weaken over the next couple of days as it moves over land, according to the agency.
  • "Across interior southeast Texas into southern-central Louisiana and southern Mississippi, rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches with locally higher amounts near 10 inches are expected into Thursday," the NHC said.
  • "This rainfall may produce areas of considerable flash and urban flooding."

Of note: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state disaster declaration for 17 counties on Monday.

  • President Biden on Monday evening approved a disaster declaration for Louisiana, which is still reeling from last month's deadly Hurricane Ida.

Background: Nicholas made landfall some three hours after the National Hurricane Center upgraded it from a tropical storm.

  • It formed as a tropical storm in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.

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

Go deeper

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Updated Dec 16, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Historic storm leaves path of damage across Iowa

Computer model projection of surface temperature departures from average on Wednesday afternoon. Image: Weatherbell.com

A monstrous line of thunderstorms rapidly moved across a large swath of Iowa Wednesday evening, creating severe weather threats never before recorded in the state in December.

Driving the news: The National Weather Service had only ever issued two tornado warnings in Iowa in December prior to this week, according to tornado researcher Harold Brooks. On Wednesday, forecasters issued more than a dozen in the state.

  • At least five tornadoes were sighted in western Iowa, while destructive gusts were recorded up to at least 80 miles per hour. One person died in the storms in Benton County, per Iowa State Patrol.
Updated Dec 16, 2021 - Energy & Environment

U.S. records most hurricane-force wind reports in single day

Picture of an overturned truck on I-80 in Lincoln, Nebraska on Dec. 15, 2021. (Nebraska State Highway Patrol via Twitter)

A massive, multi-hazard storm unprecedented for mid-December in the Plains and Upper Midwest affected nearly 100 million people from New Mexico to Wisconsin on Wednesday into Wednesday night.

Why it matters: The latest storm is yet another demonstration that the dial on the extreme weather meter has gone all the way to 11 during 2021. Many of the events this year, including this one, bear the hallmarks of climate change.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Texas governor: "All hostages are out alive and safe"

SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Photo: Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images

All four hostages have been safely released after a day-long standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Saturday night.

The latest: "Around 9 p.m., the HRT — hostage rescue team — breached the synagogue, they rescued the three [remaining] hostages, the suspect is deceased," said police chief Michael Miller of Colleyville, located roughly 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The other hostage had been released earlier Saturday.