San Francisco Chronicle

Storm becomes hurricane, aims at Texas coast

- By Juan A. Lozano Juan A. Lozano is an Associated Press writer.

HOUSTON — Nicholas strengthen­ed into a Category 1 hurricane Monday as it headed toward landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast and it was expected to bring heavy rain and floods to coastal areas from Mexico to storm-battered Louisiana.

Forecaster­s at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said top sustained winds reached 75 mph a few hours before expected landfall.

Although the system was expected to generate only a fraction as much rain as Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the region in 2017, a hurricane warning was issued for Port O’Connor to Freeport, as well as a hurricane watch from Freeport to the western tip of Galveston Island.

An automated station in Matagorda Bay registered a sustained wind of 76 mph with gusts to 95 mph, the hurricane center reported. About 50,000 customers were without power in Texas on Monday night, according to the utility tracking site poweroutag­e.us.

In flood-prone Houston, officials worried that heavy rain expected to arrive late Monday and early Tuesday could inundate streets and flood homes. Authoritie­s deployed highwater rescue vehicles throughout the city and erected barricades at more than 40 locations, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

“This city is very resilient. We know what we need to do. We know about preparing,” said Turner, referencin­g four major flood events that have hit the Houston area in recent years, including severe damage from Harvey, which flooded more than 150,000 homes in the Houston area.

Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo asked residents to stay off the roads Monday evening to avoid risking their lives or the lives of first responders who might be called to rescue them from flooded roadways.

“What I need each resident to do is get where you need to be by 6 p.m. and stay there,“said

Hidalgo, the top elected official in Harris County, which includes Houston.

The Houston school district, the state’s largest, announced that classes would be canceled Tuesday because of the incoming storm. The weather threat also closed multiple COVID-19 testing and vaccinatio­n sites in the Houston and Corpus Christi areas, and forced the cancellati­on of a Harry Styles concert scheduled for Monday evening in Houston.

After Harvey, voters approved the issuance of $2.5 billion in bonds to fund floodcontr­ol projects, including the widening of bayous. The 181 projects are at different stages of completion.

 ?? Annie Rice / Corpus Christi Caller-Times ?? People in Corpus Christi, Texas, shield their faces from wind and blowing sand near the coast as Nicholas approaches. Officials urged residents to stay off the roads.
Annie Rice / Corpus Christi Caller-Times People in Corpus Christi, Texas, shield their faces from wind and blowing sand near the coast as Nicholas approaches. Officials urged residents to stay off the roads.

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