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Tropical storm to soak Gulf coast, have minimal effect locally

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hurricane nicholas impacts

This graphic shows the chance of rain across central Alabama for Wednesday, Sept. 15.

Slow-moving tropical storm Nicholas was expected to bring rain to eastern Alabama on Wednesday and Thursday, but local weather experts were unsure how much.  

Moving Tuesday at speeds of around 8 mph, the storm was creeping along the Gulf region with dangerous flooding, knocking out power to half a million homes in southern Texas, according to the National Weather Service.

Though the storm has had a major flooding effect on southern Texas and Louisiana, the Weather Service said it will influence Calhoun County and Anniston on a much smaller scale. 

“We are not expecting any significant impacts for central Alabama as the system turns our way (i.e., given the nature of this particular system, at this time, we are not anticipating threats from tornadoes, high wind, or widespread flooding), but Nicholas will influence higher shower/storm chances through the week,” the National Weather Service said in a statement on its Facebook on Tuesday,

The storm made landfall just outside of Houston, briefly classified as a hurricane but quickly lost speed and was downgraded to a tropical storm, Weather Service meteorologist Jason Holmes reported Tuesday. 

Holmes said the flooding and large amount of rain can be attributed to the slow-moving nature of the storm: “This goes for all tropical systems — the slower they move, the more rainfall.”

Holmes said tropical storm Nicholas will likely continue to decrease to a tropical depression as it trudges across Louisiana. Still, it’s expected to bring four to six inches of rainfall and resultant flooding forecasted for south central Louisiana, while four inches is expected in southern Mississippi. 

“For Alabama, we’re really fortunate,” Holmes said. “It looks like the heaviest rainfall will be down there in Mobile with around four inches max.” 

Holmes said showers were expected at 60 percent today and Thursday with chances tapering to 40 percent by Sunday.

Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency Director Miles Chamblee confirmed Holmes' forecast prediction, saying the storm will likely kick up more rain showers as Nicholas turns north in central Louisiana reaching eastern Alabama, Wednesday and Thursday. However, he did note that autumn months typically bring small, sporadic storms and it won’t be clear in this case whether rain is coming from the tropical storm or is just part of normal September patterns. 

Chamblee said that while the storm won’t likely have major effects here, the public should always remain vigilant and prepared. Calhoun County EMA urges the public to sign up for their free emergency weather alert system by texting “CalhounEMA” to 888777.