A steady wind was kicking up waves and blowing water onto Surfside’s beaches Monday afternoon, but people at the beach were not concerned with the current conditions.
“It’s a pretty small storm so far,” Lake Jackson-based storm chaser Zachary Shoemaker said as he recorded video on the beach. “The water is starting to come up on the shore but the roads are still clear so far.”
With winds estimated in the upper teens to low 20s and waves reaching farther and farther onto shore, the approaching storm is closing beaches across the county to vehicular traffic. A few people could be seen walking along the shoreline and even entering the water late in the morning.
Earlier in the morning, conditions were calmer and people were taking advantage of the stronger waves to surf.
“There were two guys out there this morning making their second run when the first squall line came through, and it about blew them off their boards,” surfing photographer Tom Hendrickson said. “There was a third guy walking down the jetty with his longboard and he got blown so hard he had to walk backwards to make it back on land. I had to park my camper into the wind because it was starting to rock and roll a bit.”
Hendrickson is planning to ride out the storm at Surfside Jetty Park.
A mandatory evacuation was ordered for Quintana beginning at 3 p.m., according to a Facebook post from the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office.
On the island, Freeport LNG continues to monitor Nicholas’ forecast track, with plans to maintain normal site operations within the company’s hurricane protocols, Corporate Communications Director Heather Browne said in a statement Monday afternoon.
“The safety of our workforce and the public is our top priority,” Browne said.
Further inland, the captain of the port for the Galveston-Houston sector of the U.S. Coast Guard set Condition “Yankee” for Freeport as of noon Monday, according to Port Freeport’s website. The terminal gates and harbor channel are open, and the terminal gates are expected to remain open though conditions are being monitored continuously, the website states.
“Yankee” means gale-force winds are predicted to arrive within 24 hours, according to a document on the Brazos Pilots Association website.
A 4 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center indicated a hurricane watch is in effect for Port Aransas to San Luis Pass. The storm’s location was about 85 miles south-southwest of Matagorda and moving north-northeast at 12 mph.
Sustained winds at San Luis Pass were 25 mph at 2:30 p.m., with gusts of 34.
CLOSURES AND CANCELATIONS
All public school districts in Southern Brazoria County, and both Alvin and Brazosport community colleges, will remain closed through Tuesday, and all extracurricular activities are canceled.
Angleton Christian School students attended Monday, but the school posted an update to Facebook asking that after-care students be picked up by 4:30 p.m. and stating the school will be closed Tuesday. Foundation Preparatory Academy posted a message stating it will see families back on campus Wednesday if possible.
Brazosport Christian School and Our Lady Queen of Peace will remain closed through Tuesday, and Brazos Learning Montessori School in Richwood, following Brazosport ISD’s schedule, also announced closure for Tuesday with plans to reopen Wednesday.
In Freeport, Brazosport Cares Food Pantry will be closed until 9 a.m. Thursday, Executive Director Christy Frey said via email.
The Texas Dow Employees Credit Union will keep member centers and drive-thru lines open for as long as possible, according to a notice emailed to members Monday afternoon. For up-to-date hours and the status of the nearest branch, people are encouraged to check tdecu.org/find-a-location-atm, the notice stated.
With the forecasted heavy rain and wind, Brazos Mall officials made the decision to close at 5 p.m., with plans to update as more information comes in.
The Brazoria County Transportation and Infrastructure summit planned for Wednesday is being postponed and will be rescheduled, according to an email from Debbie Pennington, teh Economic Development Alliance’s vice president of operations.
A new date will be sent to those registered, Pennington’s email stated.
NO REPORTS OF FLOODING
Brazoria Mayor Roger Shugart had already postponed Tuesday’s City Council meeting until next Tuesday or Wednesday and is advising his residents to stay indoors as much as possible.
“We are expecting this storm when it moves in, we may not have hurricane winds, but we expect some trees to come down,” Shugart said. “When trees come down, we will probably lose power. We are already getting geared up for clean-up after this happens.”
Sweeny City Manager Reece Cook has been in constant contact with local leaders, businesses and churches for potential shelter sites and precautionary measures if the weather worsens.
“We have already made the preparation and have barricades staged over at our historical flooding locations,” Cook said. “We are also doing split shifts with our personnel to make sure we have coverage.”
No shelter arrangements were confirmed as of Monday afternoon, he said.
“Those are still being worked with amongst our emergency management but nothing is solidified,” Cook said. “We just put those feelers out and trying to see if anyone is available, but those haven’t been drilled down yet. Best thing to do is stay in your homes and stay off the roads unless of an emergency.”
The Brazoria County Parks Department did not have any reports of river overflow or flooding as of Monday afternoon, County Parks Director Bryan Frazier said.
“We are watching them very closely, but it’s not at a level to where we see substantial flooding yet,” Frazier said. “We haven’t seen any storm surge at this point. We are just following the recommendations of the National Weather Service. We have those calls a couple of times a day. We are bracing for the possibility.”
The county’s jetty park and beach access roads are closed through at least Tuesday, Frazier said.
Cook and Shugart both said they would monitor the rainfall but neither Sweeny nor Brazoria was flooding as of Monday afternoon.
“We are getting heavy showers down here, but it breaks and it drains out so if it keeps doing that, we will be OK,” Shugart said. “When the storm gets to us, we are talking possibly 20 inches of rain. If that is continually, we will have problems.”