After gathering strength on Monday, Tropical Storm Nicholas is threatening to blow ashore in Texas as a hurricane that could bring up to 20 inches of rain to parts of the Gulf Coast, including the same area hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and storm-battered Louisiana.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for nearly the whole state's coastline, with possible flash floods and urban flooding. Authorities have sent rescue personnel and resources in the Houston region and along the coast, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
The storm system's peak sustained winds hit 60 mph (95 kph), according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm will become a Category 1 hurricane if winds reach 74 mph. It was heading north at 12 mph (19 kph), on a path that would take it near the South Texas coast later in the day, then ashore in the evening.
Officials in Houston, which is prone to flooding, are concerned that heavy rain anticipated late Monday and early Tuesday may inundate streets and flood houses. Mayor Sylvester Turner said authorities deployed high-water rescue vehicles across the city and built barriers at more than 40 flood-prone areas, according to Associated Press inputs.
"This city is very resilient. We know what we need to do. We know about preparing," said Turner, referencing four major flood events that have hit the Houston area in recent years, including devastating damage from Harvey.
Nicholas was 70 miles (113 kilometres) southeast of Port Aransas, Texas, and 105 miles (169 kilometres) south of Port O'Connor, Texas, on Monday afternoon. The hurricane centre said it was “moving erratically” close offshore.
From Port Aransas to San Luis Pass, a hurricane warning has been issued.
Along the middle and upper Texas coasts, eight to 16 inches (20 to 40 centimetres) of rain were predicted, with isolated maximum quantities of 20 inches (50 centimetres) likely. In the following days, other regions of southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana may get 5 to 10 inches (12.5 to 25 cm) of rain.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency late Sunday night, ahead of the storm's arrival in a state already reeling from Hurricane Ida and Hurricane Laura last year, as well as unprecedented floods.
With inputs from the Associated Press