Nicholas could have been much worse. In the days leading up to the storm, the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service made a series of worst-case projections that included up to 20 inches of rain in isolated spots. In the end, the best-case projections were far closer to reality…at least in the Lake Houston Area. In fairness, the closer the storm got to Houston, the more forecasters focused on potential problems near the coast.
Still, with hurricanes, you prepare for the worst and hope for the best. And in the end, we got the best of Nicholas. Even the power outages happened in the middle of the night when most people were asleep.
Results of Scouting Trip This Morning
A scouting trip this morning showed the worst never materialized here. That’s not to say that we were damage free. I saw numerous downed trees, signs blown over, and water filling roadside ditches. But, thankfully, no flooded homes! There may have been some; I just didn’t see any.
Modest Rainfall Spread Out over Time Kept Bayous in Banks
As of 11 AM on Tuesday 9/14/2021, all streams and bayous in Harris County were within their banks, winds were dying down, and the worst part of the storm had moved off to the east.
I had 3.7 inches of rain in my gage for the last two days, which is largely consistent with other gages in the area. The gage at US59 and the West Fork San Jacinto recorded 3.04 inches over a two-day period. The rain was gentle and spread out. The heaviest downpour occurred Monday afternoon between 1 and 2 PM when we received .64 inches in a few minutes. But that volume was well within the capacity of storm sewers which can generally handle 1-2 inches per hour.
The rest of the City and County fared pretty much the same, with the exception of the far south and eastern portions.
The diversion ditch was typical of every ditch I checked in Kingwood. All were well within their banks.
Satellite Imagery Shows Worst of Nicholas Now Off to East
Visible satellite images show the distinctive “comma shape” of Nicholas.
Downed Trees, Debris, and Power Outages will be Biggest Problems for Most People
It will take a while to recover from the storm, but nothing like Harvey, Imelda, or even May 7, 2019. As of this morning, there were power outages randomly affecting neighborhoods and commercial areas. Some places seemed to be operating normally; others still lacked power. About every third traffic light was blinking.
I personally lost power several times throughout the night for a total of about six hours.
What Next for Nicholas?
According to the National Hurricane Center at its 10 AM update this morning, doppler weather radar data from Houston and Lake Charles, along with surface observations, indicate that Nicholas has continued to weaken while moving farther inland.
The strongest winds recently reported near the Texas and Louisiana coasts have been 33-35 kt (40 mph) near Sabine Pass, Texas. The estimated central pressure of 1002 mb is based on surface observations in Houston. Further weakening is expected as Nicholas moves farther inland due to frictional effects, entrainment of very dry mid-level air from the southern Plains, and increasing southwesterly to westerly shear.
Nicholas should become a tropical depression by tonight and degenerate into a remnant low by late Wednesday. Nicholas is now moving northeastward at only 5 kt. and should move even more slowly on Wednesday and Thursday. It is possible that Nicholas could stall over southwestern or central Louisiana. Although the winds associated with Nicholas will weaken, heavy rainfall and a significant flash flood risk will continue along the Gulf Coast during the next couple of days.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/14/2021 at 12:30 PM based on personal observations and data from NHC and HCFCD
1477 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 1 since Nicholas