Tropical Storm Nicholas prompts port restrictions, flood watches

Satellite animation of Tropical Storm Nicholas.

The U.S. Coast Guard began setting port restrictions over the weekend to get ahead of Tropical Storm Nicholas.

Officials issued port condition X-Ray Sunday afternoon for the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, and all other terminals and facilities due to the expectation of sustained gale-force winds.

These ports and facilities are currently open to all commercial traffic, and all transfer operations may continue while X-Ray remains in effect. All crews of oceangoing commercial vessels and oceangoing barges greater than 500 gross tons were urged to make plans for departing the port.

Vessels intending to remain in port must immediately contact the captain of the port to receive permission and are required to submit a safe mooring plan in writing. Vessels bound for the Port of Corpus Christi unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall were advised to seek an alternate destination.

As of 8 a.m. EDT Monday, Nicholas was centered in the Gulf of Mexico about 40 miles southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande River. Sustained winds were 60 mph with higher gusts. The National Hurricane Center is expecting Nicholas to strengthen, and the storm could reach the northwest Gulf Coast as a hurricane, making landfall Monday afternoon or evening near Corpus Christi. Then winds will weaken Tuesday and Wednesday once Nicholas moves over land.

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events. Tropical Storm Nicholas, Sep. 13, 2021, 8 a.m. ET. To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

Flood threat

While Nicholas may produce some wind damage and scattered power outages from the Texas coast to southwestern Louisiana, potentially major flooding is the bigger concern.

The heaviest rain will probably hit the Houston area Monday and Tuesday, with totals of 10 to 20 inches possible. Places just inland could see 5 to 10 inches. In southern Texas, the Corpus Christi area could receive 4 to 6 inches of rain, with locally higher amounts. Eight to 10 inches could accumulate from Beaumont, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana, with some spots exceeding 10 inches.

The National Weather Service has posted flash flood watches for all of these areas. The heavy rain, along with 2 to 5 feet of storm surge, will make flooding inevitable in some locations.

Tropical alerts

• Storm surge warning from Port Aransas to San Luis Pass, Texas, as well as Aransas Bay, San Antonio Bay and Matagorda Bay.

• Hurricane watch from Port Aransas to Freeport, Texas.

• Tropical storm warning from the mouth of the Rio Grande River to High Island, Texas, and from Barra el Mezquital, Mexico, to the U.S.-Mexico border.

• Storm surge watch is in effect from the mouth of the Rio Grande River to Port Aransas, in addition to San Luis Pass to Rutherford Beach, Louisiana, including Galveston Bay, Baffin Bay and Corpus Christi Bay.

• Tropical storm watch is in effect from east of High Island to Sabine Pass, Texas.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 10 from Houston to Lake Charles.
• Interstate 69 from Houston to Harlingen, Texas.

Other notable weather this week

Severe thunderstorms could pop up Monday through Wednesday in places from the northern Plains to the Great Lakes and the Northeast. A few tornadoes are possible each day, but the main threats will be large hail and intense wind gusts exceeding 60 mph. Blinding rain and localized flash flooding are also possible.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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