The Houston area is preparing for high winds, heavy rain and the likelihood of flooding as Tropical Storm Nicholas makes its way north along the Texas Gulf Coast.
In its latest advisory released early Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service said the storm could strengthen to a hurricane as it moves along the coast. Nicholas was moving north at 12 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, and was expected to make landfall along the middle Texas coast Monday evening.
Heavy rainfall in the Houston area is expected through Tuesday and into Wednesday, with the National Weather Service saying Nicholas could produce between 8 and 16 inches of rain in total, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches.
"I want to emphasize that this is not Harvey, nor is it Allison or Imelda. Each storm is unique," Houston City Council member Abbie Kamin said in an email to constituents in District C, which includes the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest areas. "The tricky part with this one is that we don’t know exactly what areas of the region will get the heaviest rain."
The city's Solid Waste Management Department announced it is suspending all services on Tuesday, while Houston Municipal Courts also will be closed Tuesday. METRO said it will suspend light rail and local bus service Monday evening and will not resume those services until conditions are safe. METRO already is suspending its Park & Ride services for Tuesday, when all HOV and HOT lanes will be closed.
The city said in a news release that Houston Public Works has positioned 43 barricades in flood-prone areas, while the Houston Police Department and Houston Fire Department have placed boats and high-water rescue vehicles throughout the city.
Houston ISD announced Monday that all extracurricular and after-school activities are cancelled for the day, with campuses and other buildings closing at 5 p.m. HISD also has called off in-person and virtual classes for Tuesday, when all HISD schools and offices will be closed.
Kamin and other local elected officials encouraged residents to gather emergency supplies and prepare their homes for potential flooding by removing loose items and debris from their yards as well as storm drains while securing garbage and recycling bins. Residents also are advised to stay indoors and off the roads beginning Monday night, when heavy rain is expected to start.
"Street flooding and rises along rivers, streams and bayous are likely," the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management said in a Monday morning news release. "Tropical storm force winds are also likely along the coast and into portions of Harris, Fort Bend and Colorado counties."
For the latest emergency information and weather alerts, visit weather/gov/hgx as well as houstonemergency.org and readyharris.org. Information about power outages is available from CenterPoint Energy at http://gis.centerpointenergy.com/outagetracker/.