Live Updates: Hurricanes and Wildfires


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The storm began to bring heavy rain to parts of coastal Texas on Monday night as the eye approached land.CreditCredit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

Hurricane Nicholas made landfall early Tuesday over the Gulf Coast of Texas before being downgraded to a tropical storm, lashing weary residents with powerful wind gusts and driving rain as it moved toward Houston.

The center of the storm made landfall just after 12:30 a.m. Central time on the eastern part of the Matagorda Peninsula, about 10 miles west-southwest of Sargent Beach, according to the National Hurricane Center. Nicholas, which has maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, is moving north-northeast at nine m.p.h., the center said.

Early Tuesday morning, about 375,000 customers in Texas were without electricity, according to CenterPoint Energy’s website, which said that extended power outages were likely in the Houston area. Forecasters expected the storm to weaken as it moves toward southeastern Texas on Tuesday and southwestern Louisiana on Wednesday.

Nicholas was expected to bring up to a foot of rain to parts of coastal Texas, the center said, raising concerns for flash flooding. Warnings of a dangerous storm surge extended east to Louisiana, where people are still recovering after Hurricane Ida battered the southern reaches of the state two weeks ago.

At a news conference on Monday night, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said roadways in the Houston area appeared to be mostly clear, and she thanked residents for staying home.

“We can’t let our guard down,” Judge Hidalgo said, adding that strong wind gusts were still a concern.

Zach Davidson, the spokesman for the office of emergency management in Galveston County, said residents should remain cautious — even if the streets look manageable in their own neighborhoods, he added.

“It may be all right where you are, but if you get on the road to go somewhere else and those roads get flooded, it becomes a very dangerous situation,” Mr. Davidson said.

Officials in Louisiana were also mindful of lessons from past storms.

“I know that bracing for another storm while we’re still responding to, and trying to recover from, Hurricane Ida is not the position that we wanted to be in,” Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said at a news conference on Monday afternoon. “But it is a situation that we are prepared for.”

Nicholas formed on Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico, the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.


How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick
Christina Caron

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather 🌬️

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick
Christina Caron

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather 🌬️

Emily Kask for The New York Times

What is “landfall”? And what are you truly facing when you’re in the eye of the storm?

During hurricane season, news coverage and forecasts can include a host of confusing terms. Let’s take a look at what they mean

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It has been a dizzying couple of months for meteorologists as the arrival of peak hurricane season — August through November — led to a run of named storms that formed in quick succession, bringing stormy weather, flooding and damaging winds to parts of the United States and the Caribbean.

Tropical Storm Mindy hit the Florida Panhandle on Sept. 8, just hours after it formed in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Larry, which formed on Sept. 1, strengthened to a Category 3 storm two days later and then weakened. It struck Canada as a Category 1 hurricane and caused widespread power outages in Newfoundland.

Ida battered Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 29 before its remnants brought deadly flooding to the New York area. Two other tropical storms, Julian and Kate, both fizzled out within a day at the same time.

Not long before them, in mid-August, Tropical Storm Fred made landfall in the Florida Panhandle and Hurricane Grace hit Haiti and Mexico. Tropical Storm Henri knocked out power and brought record rainfall to the Northeastern United States on Aug. 22.

The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect to see stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms. But the overall number of storms could drop, because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23, making this the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic Ocean before the official start of the season on June 1.

In May, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, six to 10 of which would be hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic. In early August, in a midseason update to the forecast, they continued to warn that this year’s hurricane season would be an above-average one, suggesting a busy end to the season.

NOAA updated its forecast in early August, predicting 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on Nov. 30.

Last year, there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and move to using Greek letters.

It was the highest number of storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and included the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.

Jacey Fortin, Jesus Jiménez, Christopher Mele, Edgar Sandoval and Daniel Victor contributed reporting.

Cyclist made their way in the rain in Bay City, Texas, on Monday as Nicholas approached.
Credit…Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle, via Associated Press

As Hurricane Nicholas came ashore early Tuesday morning, forecasters warned the storm could bring “life-threatening flash floods” across the Deep South over the next few days.

Nicholas, now a tropical storm, could produce dangerous flash flooding in parts of upper Texas’s coastal area, Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southern Alabama, the National Hurricane Center said early Tuesday morning.

The storm is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rains to parts of Texas and Louisiana for several days as it moves along the Gulf Coast, including as much as 20 inches of rain in parts of central and southern Louisiana, which are still recovering from Hurricane Ida last month, the center said. It also warned of the possibility of tornadoes along the upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coast on Tuesday.

Credit…NOAA

The storm has already battered parts of coastal Texas, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of customers, after it made landfall early Tuesday as a Category 1 hurricane and moved toward Houston.

The hurricane center warned of the potential for a dangerous storm surge as Nicholas moves along the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, with water reaching up to five feet above ground, from Sargent to High Island in Texas, and up to four feet above ground, from High Island to Rutherford Beach, in Louisiana.

Other parts of Texas may see water up to three feet above ground, including Aransas, San Antonio and Matagorda Bays, as well as Intracoastal City, in Louisiana.

Though it will weaken as it moves over land in the coming days, the storm is still expected to bring hurricane-strength winds and driving rains, according to the hurricane center.

In southwest Louisiana, many homes are still covered in blue tarps after Hurricane Laura wreaked havoc there in 2020. Overall, more than 52,000 state residents have requested free installation of durable tarps through Blue Roof, a program funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The installations are performed or overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The program is just ramping up, but Col. Zachary L. Miller of the corps’s Ida recovery mission said he had hoped to attach all temporary roofs within 60 days.

Now, he said, Nicholas may delay workers’ efforts. “We understand the sense of urgency homeowners feel,” he said. “And we also understand more rain can mean more damage.”

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Biden Says Wildfires Are ‘Blinking Code Red’ for Nation

President Biden, on his first trip to the West Coast as president, surveyed damage from wildfires in California, saying the U.S. could not “ignore the reality that these wildfires are being supercharged by climate change.”

These fires are blinking code red for our nation. They’re gaining frequency and ferocity. And we know what we have to do. My “Build Back Better” plan includes billions of dollars for wildfire preparedness, resilience and response, forest management to restore millions of acres and to protect homes and public water sources. We know that decades of forest management decisions have created hazardous conditions across the Western forest, but we can’t ignore the reality that these wildfires are being supercharged by climate change. It isn’t about red or blue states. It’s about fires, just fires. When I think about climate change, I think about not the cost, I think about good- paying jobs it’ll create. But I also think about the jobs we’re losing due to impacts on the supply chains and industries because we haven’t acted boldly enough. We have to build back, and you’ve heard me say it 100 times, not just build back, but build back better. As one nation, we’ve got to do it together. We’ll get through this together. We just have to keep the faith.

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President Biden, on his first trip to the West Coast as president, surveyed damage from wildfires in California, saying the U.S. could not “ignore the reality that these wildfires are being supercharged by climate change.”CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden visited California on Monday to tout his efforts to better protect the state against the raging wildfires that have burned more than two million acres, displaced thousands and pushed responders to the brink of exhaustion.

“These fires are blinking code red for our nation,” said Mr. Biden, who used the occasion to promote two bills pending in Congress that would fund forest management and more resilient infrastructure as well as combat global warming. The country cannot “ignore the reality that these wildfires are being supercharged by climate change,” he said.

But experts say there are limits to what the federal government can do to reduce the scale and destructive power of the fires, at least in the short term. That’s because much of the authority needed relies on state and local governments, those experts said.

Federal action largely depends on Congress approving new funding — but even if approved, that money might not make much of a difference anytime soon.

“Climate change impacts can’t be absolved in a single year,” said Roy Wright, who was in charge of risk mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Agency until 2018. The goal, he said, should be “investments that will pay back over the coming three to five years.”

On wildfires, like so much else, Mr. Biden has presented himself as the opposite of former President Donald J. Trump: Clear about the role of climate change, willing to listen to experts, and promising to better defend places like California against a growing threat.

“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires?” Mr. Biden said in a speech last year as California staggered through record-breaking fires. “If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?”

Mr. Biden, of course, won the election — only to see the damage from wildfires in California and across the country continue to get worse.

On Monday, Mr. Biden flew over the Caldor fire, which has consumed more than 200,000 acres south of Lake Tahoe and forced thousands of people from their homes.

“We have to act more rapidly and more firmly and more broadly than today,” Mr. Biden told a small crowd gathered in the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “We can’t afford to let anything slip further. It really is a matter of what the world will look like.”

Some of the largest wildfires in U.S. history are burning across the American West this year, charring vast swaths of forest land and threatening communities. This interactive map built by The New York Times, using government and satellite data, is tracking wildfires as they spread across Western states. Check back regularly for updates.





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