Tropical Storm Nicholas Could Intensify 'Very Quickly', Houston Mayor Warns

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner warned Monday that Tropical Storm Nicholas could intensify "very, very quickly" as the storm threatens to bring heavy rain to Texas' largest city.

Turner urged residents to take the storm seriously by being alert and preparing during a press briefing on Monday. He said the storm, which is expected to bring heavy rain and flooding to parts of the Gulf Coast, has "some unpredictability."

"It doesn't have to be a hurricane," Turner said. "These systems can intensify very, very quickly, and you can end up getting more rain than you anticipated."

Nicholas, the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, is expected to hit the center of the Texas coast Monday evening. It has the potential to produce massive floods from the Texas coast through Louisiana. A life-threatening storm surge from Port Arkansas to Sabine Pass is also possible, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm could be "near hurricane intensity" when it makes landfall, the hurricane center warned. It is expected to bring five to 10 inches of rain—with some isolated areas receiving up to 15 inches.

Texas Storm
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner warned residents that Tropical Storm Nicholas could intensify as it heads toward Texas’ largest city. Above, Houston is seen on August 27, 2017, during Hurricane Harvey. THOMAS SHEA/AFP via Getty Images

Turner said his office is monitoring for the potential of high winds or tornadoes. He added that, as of Monday, it was not known how much rain specific parts of the city would receive, but the southern end near the coast is an area of concern.

He pleaded to residents to stay off the roads, pointing out that driving through floods not only puts them in danger but also requires a rescue effort from first responders.

"If you don't have to go on the road later on this evening, please don't," the mayor said. "Finish up what you got to do, and just be at home in a safe place."

Turner announced several measures to help the city prepare for the storm. Schools in Houston will be closed Tuesday, and he will make a decision regarding non-essential city employees later Monday.

The city's public works department is lowering the water level in Lake Houston by one foot to prevent it from flooding, and may further lower it if needed. More than 40 have been deployed, and CenterPoint Energy is prepared to work on potential outages, according to Turner.

"Mother Nature will do what mother nature does," Turner said. "Having said that, it's important regardless of where you are to take note of those conditions."

Ahead of the storm, he offered a note of optimism for the city, which was battered in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey.

"This city is very resilient," Turner said. "We know what we need to do."

Newsweek reached out to Turner's office for further comment but did not hear back before publication.