Sept. 14 (UPI) — Heavy rain from the approaching Tropical Storm Nicholas moved ashore along the Texas coast on Monday as forecasters predicted rainfall rates reaching 2 to 3 inches per hour.
The National Weather Service in Houston said updated radar images showed rain bands from Nicholas had reached Galveston, Texas, at 2:30 p.m. CDT, and noted that winds were picking up quickly in the area as the storm strengthened before making an expected late Monday landfall.
A day after forming in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, Nicholas was located about 60 miles south-southwest of Matagorda, Texas, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 mph while moving north-northeast at 12 mph, according to an 8 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is likely to continue strengthening Monday evening and could be near hurricane strength when it makes landfall on the northwest Gulf coast. It would become a Category 1 hurricane if winds reach 74 mph.
Forecasters warned the storm could cause flash flooding and a dangerous storm surge starting Monday.
Officials in Houston reported high, standing water was beginning to form on freeways and that barricades are being deployed on city streets. A flash flood watch was issued for the city through Tuesday evening,
“Do not go around barricades,” transportation officials urged. “They are there for your protection.”
A hurricane watch was in effect for Port Aransas to Free Port, Texas, while a tropical storm warning was ordered for the mouth of the Rio Grande to High Island, Texas, and from Barra el Mezquital to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Nicholas is expected to produce 20 inches in isolated areas in middle and upper Texas through the middle of this week.
“This rainfall may produce areas of considerable flash and urban flooding, especially in highly urbanized metropolitan areas,” the NHC said. “Additionally, there is the potential for isolated minor to moderate river flooding.”