First Responders

Tropical Storm Nicholas Takes a Swing at Texas

September 13, 2021Carl Prine
Tropical Storm Nicholas

A “clean” long-wave IR window band satellite image of Tropical Storm Nicholas was captured early Monday off the coast of Texas. These images are used to detect clouds all times of day and night and help estimate cloud top height. National Hurricane Center image.

With Tropical Storm Nicholas bearing down on Texas, Corpus Christi Fire Department Capt. Joshua Brunemeier said they’re prepared for the worst.

“You don’t really know what you’re going to get until it hits. We pray for the best but prepare for the worst,” Brunemeier told Coffee or Die Magazine shortly after dawn on Monday.

So far they’ve battened down the station house — it squats three blocks west of Corpus Christi Bay — in anticipation of up to 7 inches of rain.

Brunemeier’s crews drew one of the toughest missions for first responders: splashing their rescue boats through rising waters to save the lives of trapped residents.

He’s got reinforcements for Nicholas — a Texas emergency task force pre-positioned a boat crew there in case there’s flooding.

Now they’ve got to wait to see just how strong Nicholas punches.

On Monday morning, the storm erratically skittered just offshore Mexico’s northeastern coast, about 30 nautical miles east of the mouth of the Rio Grande River, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Packing sustained 60 mph winds, Nicholas is expected to trigger flash flooding, a dangerous storm surge, a tornado or two, and gusty gales, with up to 20 inches of rain pelting portions of Texas.

US Air Force reconnaissance planes discovered Monday morning that Nicholas is strengthening. A hurricane watch remains in effect along the Texas coast, from Port Aransas to Freeport.

Forecasters warn Corpus Christi to expect a pounding storm surge and the potential for life-threatening rising waters moving inland over the next 36 hours.

Nicholas should veer eastward over the next three days, dousing east Texas and northern Louisiana before entering Mississippi by early Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

On Sunday, the US Coast Guard set port condition X-Ray in Corpus Christi.

That sparked an alert to the skippers of all commercial vessels and large oceangoing barges to begin leaving the port.

Pleasure craft operators should seek safe harbor. No boaters should attempt to enter the water.

Residents are urged to avoid beaches in anticipation of strong waves and deadly rip currents.

Read Next: Splintered Barns and Broken Lives: ‘Cajun Navy’ Hurricane Ida Relief Moves Inland

Carl Prine
Carl Prine

Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

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