Tropical Storm Nicholas forms in Gulf of Mexico, expected to bring heavy rainfall to Texas and Louisiana

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Tropical Storm Nicholas has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and parts of Texas and Louisiana are expected to experience heavy rainfall and strong storm surge from the 14th named Atlantic storm this year.

The National Hurricane Center said Sunday afternoon the storm was about 240 miles southeast of the mouth of the Rio Grande.

At 4 p.m. EDT, the center of the storm was forecasted to pass near or just offshore the coasts of northeastern Mexico and South Texas on Monday, and hit south or central Texas on Monday night or early Tuesday. Its maximum sustained winds were clocked at 40 mph (65 kph) and it was moving north-northwest at 15 mph. Gradual strengthening is forecast in the next day or so.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said a hurricane watch and storm surge warning were issued for a portion of Texas, while tropical storm warnings were issued for coastal areas of Texas. Nicholas is expected to produce total rainfall of 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters), with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches, across portions of coastal Texas into southwest Louisiana on Sunday through midweek.

The hurricane watch was issued for the coast of Texas from Port Aransas to Sargent.

Ida severely impacted parts of Louisiana and Mississippi before delivering torrential rains to the Northeast. More than 80 people died across the country as a result of the storm.

More on Tropical Storm Nicholas:USA TODAY storm tracker

In advance of Nicholas, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he has dispatched emergency services along the state’s coast.

“We will continue to closely monitor this storm and take all necessary precautions to keep Texans safe. I encourage Texans to follow the guidance and warnings of their local officials and be mindful of potential heavy rain and flooding,” he said in a statement.

Across Louisiana, 140,198 customers – or about 6.3% of the state – remained without power on Sunday morning, according to the Louisiana Public Service Commission.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards took to Twitter to urge people in the southern portion of the state to keep a close eye on the storm and be prepared for heavy rains and flash flooding.

The storm is projected to move slowly up the coastland which could dump torrential amounts of rain over several days, said meteorologist Donald Jones of the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, La.

“Heavy rain, flash flooding appears to be the biggest threat across our region,” he said in an email.

Only four other years since 1966 have had 14 or more named storms by Sept. 12: 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2020.

University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said the season’s 14th named storm is about two months ahead of historical expectations.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.