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.
Tropical Storm Nicholas neared the coast of Texas on Monday morning. At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Monday the center of Tropical Storm Nicholas was located at latitude 26.4°N and longitude 96.8°W which put it about 140 miles (225 km) south of Port O’Connor, Texas. Nicholas was moving toward the north at 12 m.p.h. (19km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h) and there were’ wind gusts to 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 1002 mb.
A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Port Aransas to San Luis Pass, Texas. A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Rio Grande River to Sabine Pass, Texas. The Tropical Storm Warning included Corpus Christi and Galveston.
The center of Tropical Storm Nicholas reorganized several times on Monday. Each time a new center formed farther to the north-northeast. The new centers formed on the southern sides of clusters of stronger thunderstorms. The inner end of a rainband appeared to be wrapping around the northern side of the most recent center of circulation. Other bands of stronger thunderstorms were occurring north and east of the center of Nicholas. Bands to the south and west of the center consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds. The strongest winds were occurring in the eastern half of Tropical Storm Nicholas. Winds to tropical storm force extended out 115 miles (185 km) on the eastern side of Nicholas. The winds in the western half of the circulation were blowing at less than tropical storm force.
Tropical Storm Nicholas will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 12 hours. Nicholas will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperatures are near 30˚C. It will move between and upper level trough over northern Mexico and an upper level ridge over the Gulf of Mexico. The upper trough and ridge will produce southerly winds that will blow toward the top of Nicholas’ circulation. Those winds will cause some vertical wind shear, but the shear will not be strong enough to prevent intensification. The upper level low will move west and weaken during the next 12 hours. The upper level ridge will extend northwest over Tropical Storm Nicholas. When the ridge extends over Nicholas the upper level winds will weaken. When the upper level winds weaken, the vertical wind shear will decrease. Tropical Storm Nicholas will strengthen when that occurs. If a more well defined center develops and persists in the middle of Nicholas, the it could strengthen more quickly. There is a chance that Nicholas could intensify to a hurricane later on Monday.
Tropical Storm Nicholas will move around the western side of a high pressure system that extends over the Gulf of Mexico. The high will steer Nicholas toward the north during the next 12 hours. On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Nicholas will approach the central coast of Texas on Monday night. Nicholas will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to coastal areas of northeast Texas on Monday night. The strongest winds and the heaviest rain will occur before the center of Tropical Storm Nicholas makes landfall. The strongest winds will occur on the eastern side of Nicholas’ circulation. Scattered power outages could occur along the Upper Texas Coast and in southwestern Louisiana. Tropical Storm Nicholas could also cause a storm surge of up to 7 feet (2 meters) along portions of the coast. Nicholas will move toward the northeast on Tuesday. Locally heavy rain will fall over Louisiana. Flash floods could occur in some locations.