Tropical Depression Nicholas: Louisiana Could See Heavy Rains, Flooding Through Weekend

Nicholas has been downgraded to a tropical depression, but forecasters and officials warn the system could bring heavy rains and dangerous flooding to southern Louisiana this weekend.

The storm could dump up to 10 inches of rain in some parts of the state, and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center warn that the system could cause “life-threatening” flash flooding and minor river flooding in some areas.

The NHC issued its final advisory on Wednesday morning. The storm was 30 miles northeast of Lake Charles and was moving east to northeast at 5 miles per hour. Wind speeds were last recorded at 30 miles per hour. Forecasters expect the system to come to a halt over Southeast Louisiana on Thursday before moving north and dissipating on Friday. The storm’s slow pace will leave much of southeast Louisiana under the threat of inclement weather this weekend.

The system has the potential to drop 3-7 inches of rain across the state, with up to 10 inches predicted for some areas.

Flash flood watch has been issued for most parishes in southern Louisiana and coastal Mississippi, which will remain in effect until 7 a.m. Thursday.

The weather system could trigger tornadoes in southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday, but right now forecasters consider the storm primarily a rainy event.

And more rain is in the forecast for southern Louisiana after Nicholas clears the area.

WWNO Meteorologist Dan Holiday said the warm sea temperatures experienced in the Gulf of Mexico this time of year often cause heavy downpours along the coast.

“Anytime you have temperatures that are warmer, they cause more moisture to be held in the atmosphere for a longer period of time, and we know conditions this year are very conducive to tropical activity,” Holiday said. “Unfortunately, we just went there when we couldn’t get out of the way.”

Governor John Bel Edwards urged Louisiana residents to take Nicholas — and all the storms that followed — seriously.

“The bottom line is that much of Louisiana is expected to get a lot of rain,” Edwards said during a press conference prior to the storm on Tuesday. “And the most disturbing part of this is that the heaviest rain is now expected to fall in areas most devastated by Hurricane Ida.”

Edwards said tall piles of storm waste from Hurricane Ida could obstruct drainage and lead to more flash flooding than a storm of this caliber would normally cause.

He advised drivers to avoid flooded roads, which will be even more dangerous due to the possibility of hurricane debris underwater, and to take note of any emergency signs posted by Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development crews.

“It doesn’t take a lot of water in terms of depth or current to actually get a vehicle completely off the road into a ditch or waterway,” Edwards said. “Please don’t drive around barricades and don’t ignore high water signs.”

More than 80,000 buildings in South Louisiana were rendered uninhabitable after Hurricane Ida, and the tarps used to cover temporarily damaged roofs are in short supply. Edwards said Monday that the state received a bulk shipment of tarpaulins that it would distribute among the storm victims.

The demand for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Operation Blue Roof, which installs fiber-reinforced sheets on homes that would otherwise be uninhabitable, far outstrips supply. By Tuesday, more than 55,000 people had signed up for the service and only 800 temporary roofs had been installed. The program installed 14,000 temporary roofs in southwestern Louisiana after Hurricane Laura.

Entergy reported 76,000 power outages on Wednesday morning, 12,000 of which were caused by Nicholas. Estimated recovery times will be provided once the energy supplier has completed a damage assessment.

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