Tropical Depression Nicholas has unleashed heavy rain across parts of Louisiana this week, raising the risk of severe flooding in an area already battered by Hurricane Ida and still struggling to restore electricity to tens of thousands of customers.
Forecasters warned that the storm, which made landfall early Tuesday as a hurricane over the Gulf Coast of Texas, could also produce life-threatening flash floods in parts of the Deep South, dropping three to six inches of rain on southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle through Friday.
Up to 10 inches of rain is possible in isolated parts of those regions, the National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday.
“Before Nicholas came along, the ground was already saturated,” said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center. “That’s a lot of water that is going to result in some life-threatening flash flooding impacts, especially in urban areas.”
The forecast for heavy rainfall was yet another obstacle to communities struggling to recover from Hurricane Ida, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm near New Orleans two weeks ago.
As rain bore down on Tuesday on the city of Houma, La., which endured some of the worst of Ida’s winds, water leaked through tarps on damaged rooftops and into residents’ homes. Water pooled, too, as drains remain full of debris from Ida.
“It’s terrible to see all of the debris of everybody’s stuff everywhere, but it’s even worse to see that debris sopping wet,” said Jonathan Foret, a Houma resident and executive director of the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center. “It just makes it even more difficult to do the cleaning of everything and trying to put things back together again.”
The forecast has prompted weather-weary officials across the South to brace for another round of dangerous conditions.
In Mississippi, the state’s emergency management agency told residents how they could flee to higher ground if flooding occurs, underscoring the challenges of a hurricane season intensified by climate change.
About 72,000 customers remained without power in the state, both from Ida and new outages caused by Nicholas.
Nicholas is expected to weaken as it churns eastward, forecasters said. But the storm will still produce strong winds and driving rains, according to the hurricane center.
River flooding across parts of southern Louisiana and Mississippi was also possible, the center said.
In Texas, about 120,000 customers were without power early Wednesday morning, according to Poweroutage.us, a website that tracks and aggregates reports from utilities.
Houston residents were asked by the city’s police department to stay home because dangerous conditions, such as downed power lines and roadways cluttered with debris, were still present after the storm swept through the area with winds of 40 miles per hour.