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.

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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