Nicholas, now a tropical depression, crawled over southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana Tuesday night. The storm dumped more than a foot of rain on Houston. Climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, warms the atmosphere, enabling it to hold and then dump more moisture, leading to increased severe precipitation events. The National Hurricane Center said the storm may continue to slow and even stall over Louisiana and the Deep South in the coming days, bringing with it heavy rainfall and potentially life-threatening flash floods.
Much of southern Louisiana, still just recovering from Hurricane Ida, is saturated with nowhere for the new rainwater to go, and southwest Louisiana faces a rarely-issued “high risk” of flash flooding, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters said southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the western Florida panhandle could see heavy rainfall as well. (AP, Washington Post $, Reuters, Democracy Now, AP, Bloomberg $, NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC; Flash flood risks: Axios; Texas power outages: Houston Chronicle; Oil prices: Houston Chronicle, Bloomberg $; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation increase, 2021 Atlantic hurricane season)