Port of Corpus Christi Gets Ready for Tropical Storm Nicholas

Nicholas' expected track through the Gulf of Mexico (National Hurricane Center)

Published Sep 12, 2021 11:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

With newly-formed Tropical Storm Nicholas gaining strength over the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center has declared a hurricane watch for a stretch of the central Texas coast, and the region's ports are getting ready for the storm's arrival. 

Nicholas is expected to skirt Texas' southern coast as a tropical storm, passing close by Brownsville and Corpus Christi before making landfall near Port Lavaca. A storm surge warning is in effect between Port Aransas and the western edge of Galveston Island, and as there is a chance that the storm could gain strength, a hurricane warning is in effect for most of the same region. 

"Although not explicitly shown in the intensity forecast, Nicholas could approach hurricane strength when it nears the northwest Gulf coast, especially if it moves to the right of the NHC forecast track and spends more time over water," the National Hurricane Center warned in an advisory Sunday. "Due to this uncertainty a Hurricane 
Watch has been issued a for a portion of the Texas coast."

On Sunday evening, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Corpus Christi set port condition X-Ray for all facilities in order to prepare for gale force winds within 48 hours. All facilities are still open, but all ocean-going vessels and large barges are advised to make plans to head out to sea in advance of the storm's arrival.

Some coastal and inland areas could be hit with a deluge of rain, with concentrated pockets receiving as much as 20 inches of precipitation over the course of two days. NOAA's Weather Prediction Center forecast that this could lead to flooding concerns in the Houston metro area, a key hub for the petrochemical and refining industries. Flash flood warnings are in effect for a wide swath of the U.S. Gulf Coast, from the U.S.-Mexico border all the way to Lake Charles, Louisiana.

In Louisiana, which is still working to recover from the effects of Hurricane Ida, Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency in advance of Nicholas' arrival. Some 130,000 utility customers are still without power in Southeast Louisiana, and the governor warned that the storm could delay efforts to repair the grid. 

"The most severe threat to Louisiana is in the southwest portion of the state . . . However, it is also likely that all of South Louisiana will see heavy rain this week, including areas recently affected by Hurricane Ida. This tropical storm has the potential to disrupt some power restoration and recovery work currently underway," Gov. Edwards said in a statement. 

Nicholas is the 14th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, and it has formed about two months earlier than average. In a typical year, the 14th storm appears towards the middle of November.