Tropical Storm Nicholas stalled over Texas on Tuesday, tipping a deluge of water onto an area battered by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and leaving half a million people without power.
Nicholas made landfall in Texas as a Category-1 hurricane in the early hours with warnings of heavy rain, high winds and dangerous tidal surge.
The storm moved in land but had slowed south of the city of Houston, dumping more than a foot of rain and bringing maximum winds of 40 mph.
Utility company, CenterPoint Energy, reported on Tuesday afternoon that 180,000 customers remained without power.
Category-4 Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas and Louisiana in August 2017 with widespread flooding. More than 100 people died in what is one of the costliest disasters on record.
Galveston, Texas, saw nearly 14 inches (35 centimeters) of rain from Nicholas, while Houston reported more than 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain. That’s a fraction of what fell during Harvey, which dumped more than 60 inches (152 centimeters) of rain in southeast Texas over a four-day period, the Associated Press reported.
Houston emergency response officials deployed high-water rescue vehicles and barricaded more than 40 locations likely to flood, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
“This city is very resilient. We know what we need to do. We know about preparing,” the mayor said.
However forecasters warned that Nicholas could bring life-threatening floods to Louisiana and parts of the Deep South in the coming days.
Nicholas made landfall early Tuesday on the Matagorda Peninsula on the southeastern coast of Texas with winds of up to 75 mph (120 kph) but was soon downgraded to a tropical storm.
A number of schools closed along the Texas Gulf coast at the start of the week due to the incoming storm. Multiple Covid-19 testing and vaccination facilities in the Houston and Corpus Christi areas were also closed.
Nicholas is the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
The climate crisis is creating conditions which are driving more powerful storms with greater rainfall.
While it’s unclear whether the climate crisis will mean an increased number of hurricanes in the future, scientists have long warned that increased global heating will likely make the storms that we do experience more destructive.
The ocean absorbs over 90 per cent of excess heat caused by greenhouse gas emissions – largely caused from the burning of fossil fuels – and that warm water feeds into hurricanes.
And as the planet heats up, more moisture is held in the atmosphere, meaning storms hold the potential of a lot more rainfall. Global sea level rise is compounding the danger of storm surge.
President Joe Biden declared an emergency for Louisiana on Tuesday and ordered federal assistance to supplement local response efforts, the White House said.