Nicholas reached hurricane strength before making landfall on the Texas coast early Tuesday morning. Now a tropical storm, Nicholas still brings with it life-threatening storm surge and could dump as much as 20 inches of rain across the same regions submerged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. It is also forecast to hit parts of Louisiana still recovering from last year’s duo of Hurricanes Laura and Delta, and last month’s Hurricane Ida. More than 360,000 Texas utility customers are already without power. The storm raises special concerns for those in and around the New Orleans region, where many still do not have power after Ida, and just 5% of the trash and debris left by that storm has been cleaned up.
Environmental scientists with the group Healthy Gulf have also reported miles-long oil slicks from petrochemical plants — more than 2,300 spills have been reported to the Coast Guard, and about 900 have yet to be investigated — and Nicholas is expected to further reveal the industry’s inability to cope with extreme weather. (Nicholas landfall: Washington Post $, CNN, ABC-13, AP, CBS; Ida recovery: Gambit, NOLA.com; Oil spills: NOLA.com; Oil industry: Houston Chronicle; Nicholas forecasts: NOLA.com, NOLA.com, Yale Climate Connections, NPR, Gizmodo; Climate Signals background: 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season, Extreme precipitation increase)