Tropical Storm Nicholas, quickly on its way to a tropical depression by the end of Tuesday, had already pushed most of its heaviest rain bands into Louisiana by the time its center reached Southeast Texas.
The storm previously thought to be a heavy rainmaker for the region dropped around 7 inches of rain on the region through Monday night and Tuesday, triggering flash flood warnings for most of Jefferson County, but didn’t offer much in the way of wind damage.
By the late afternoon, most of Nicholas’ threat was focused on the Lake Charles area as it slowed down and threatened to drop heavy rain in isolated areas over several hours.
“Nicholas has continued to weaken today, and will be a tropical depression later this evening, before dissipating by Wednesday or Thursday in southwest, south central, or central Louisiana,” NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Roger Erickson said in a forecast.
Jefferson County did see some high gusts early Tuesday morning, some of which were registered at 62 mph around Sabine Pass and between 40 and 50 mph around northwest Beaumont.
The storm’s impact knocked out power for over 9,900 Entergy customers, around 1,400 of which were in the Beaumont area, but the utility expected to restore most customers by late Tuesday night.
Sporadic wind damage and street flooding was reported throughout the Beaumont area and Mid-county, but was mostly related to trees or unstable infrastructure.
Port Neches Fire Chief Eloy Vega reported some weather related incidents, including a blown transformer, a downed light pole and a downed tree on a property.
“Crews remain ready to respond and preparations have been made by the city to mitigate the storm’s impact,” Vega said. “The community is encouraged to use caution during inclement weather and to stay tuned to weather news and information.”
Those crews were still dealing with intense gusts and persistent rain into the afternoon as they responded.
As the storm continued to head north, most of Orange County entered a flash flood warning as rising waters closed some low-lying roads on the east side of the county.
By Tuesday afternoon, four water level gauges in Jefferson County were at flood levels, from Sabine Pass to Taylor Bayou and the Neches River.
Taylor Bayou was progressively rising as water from the northwest drained through the county, raising it between 4 to 5 feet above regular height.
The Neches River was only about 1 foot above flood stage by Tuesday afternoon and was expected to lower by Thursday afternoon, when rain from Nicholas is expected to be long gone from Southeast Texas.
Pine Island Bayou along the Jefferson County and Hardin County border still could reach minor flood stage by Wednesday night, according to predictive forecasts. The bayou could reach above 25 feet, about three feet over the action stage, over the next few days.
Written by Jacob Dick