Tropical Storm Nicholas is drifting to the north in the extreme western Gulf of Mexico. Because it’s moving parallel to the coast, forecasting the landfall point is very tricky. A wobble to the left and the system runs into the Mexico or South Texas coast pretty soon.
But if it wobbles to the right, and more of the circulation stays over the warm Gulf water, Nicholas will likely end up stronger, and bring even heavier rain.
The National Hurricane Center’s forecast splits the difference showing Nicholas as a strong tropical storm on the central Texas coast between Corpus Christi and Houston tonight. It’s forecast to dump 8 to 16 inches of rain with some spots getting up to 20 inches near and just to the right of where the center comes ashore.
Somewhat less but still heavy rain is forecast from the Houston area into Louisiana. But a slight shift to east of Nicholas’ track would bring extra heavy rain to those locations.
Nicholas is shaped like a comma, so most of the bad weather will be east and north of the center.
The upper-level winds, which are responsible for creating that comma shape, are not expected to be super-conducive for strengthening, so Nicholas is forecast to remain at tropical-storm strength. Although, if it stays away from land just long enough, a hurricane can’t be totally ruled out.
Nicholas will be moving slowly, but there’s no reason to think it will stall and loop like Harvey did in 2017. Coastal Texas and Louisiana, and especially the Houston area, are very susceptible to flooding, so everybody there needs to stay well informed.
North of Puerto Rico, Tropical Disturbance #1 is involved with an upper-level low-pressure system. Over time, the two systems are forecast to align so the disturbance can develop to at least some degree. The National Hurricane Center is painting a large potential-development zone east and north of the Bahamas. People in the coastal Carolinas and up the East Coast should watch the progress of this disturbance.
Disturbance #2 has just crossed the African coastline heading into the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center is giving it a good chance of developing into at least a tropical depression as it heads west over the ocean. The long-range computer forecast models have been all over the place on how this system will develop. But it’s not forecast to reach the longitude of the eastern Caribbean islands until a week from now, if it ever makes it that far. So we have a lot of time to watch it.