Nicholas Strengthens to a Hurricane near Texas Coast

Former Tropical Storm Nicholas strengthened to a hurricane near the Texas coast on Monday night. At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Hurricane Nicholas was located at latitude 28.4°N and longitude 95.8°W which put it about 45 miles (75 km) southwest of Freeport, Texas. Nicholas was moving toward the north-northeast at 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were’ wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 988 mb.

A Hurricane Waring was in effect for the portion of the coast from Port O’Connor to Freeport, Texas. A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Freeport to San Luis Pass, Texas. Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the portions of the coast from Port Aransas to Port O’Connor, Texas and from Freeport to Sabine Pass, Texas. The Tropical Storm Warning included Galveston.

Former Tropical Storm Nicholas strengthened to a hurricane on Monday night. An upper level ridge over the Gulf of Mexico enhanced upper level divergence to the northeast of Nicholas. The enhanced upper level divergence pumped away more mass and the surface pressure at the center of Nicholas decreased to 988 mb on Monday evening. The decreased pressure increased the pressure difference and a larger pressure gradient force caused the wind speed to gradually increase to hurricane force.

The circulation around Hurricane Nicholas was still asymmetrical. Drier air was wrapping around the southern side of Nicholas’ circulation and the precipitation was falling in the north half of the hurricane. The strongest winds were occurring in the eastern half of Hurricane Nicholas. Winds to hurricane force extended out 25 miles (40 km) in the northeastern quadrant of Nicholas. Winds to tropical storm force extended out 115 miles (185 km) on the eastern side of Hurricane Nicholas. Winds to tropical storm force extended out 45 miles on the western side of the hurricane.

Hurricane Nicholas will move around the western end of a high pressure system that extends over the Gulf of Mexico. The high pressure system will steer Nicholas toward the north-northeast during the next 24 hours. On its anticipated track the center of Hurricane Nicholas could make landfall near Freeport, Texas in a few hours. Hurricane Nicholas will bring strong winds to the coast of Texas between Matagorda and Port Arthur. Scattered power outages are likely. Nicholas will drop heavy rain over parts of southeastern Texas and over Louisiana on Tuesday. Flash floods could occur in some locations. Southerly winds blowing on the east side of Hurricane Nicholas will push water toward the coast. Those winds could cause a storm surge of up to 7 feet (2 meters). The water level will rise along the coast of southwest Louisiana too.

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