As Nicholas stalls over Louisiana, three potential storms are crowding the Atlantic

Three weather disturbances lurking in the Atlantic could spell trouble for U.S. coastal areas once the relentless rains from the remnants of Hurricane Nicholas finally pass.

A disturbance northeast of the Bahamas is expected to become a tropical depression or storm in the next couple of days, AccuWeather says. The disturbance was approaching North Carolina on Thursday with the potential for heavy squalls and angry seas along the coast.

"Depending on how quickly wind shear drops off, the system has a high chance of becoming a tropical depression and storm at any time through the end of this week," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller said.

The system may be steered more to north-northeast today and Friday, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina may experience some tropical-storm-force wind gusts and heavy rain late into Friday, AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.

But the news wasn't all bad.

“There’s going to be west-southwest (wind) shear so that most of the rain and wind will probably be on the eastern side and maybe offshore,” Rayno said.

'Despondent': Battered Louisiana city gets more rain from Nicholas

Whether or not the new system develops into a tropical storm, stormy conditions are expected to agitate Atlantic waters along the East Coast of the U.S. later this week and this weekend. The increased wave action is likely to make for rough surf and strong rip currents from the Carolinas northward to southern New England.

Low-lying areas along the Atlantic that are prone to flooding at times of high tide may experience some problems as the system unfolds, forecasters warn.

Tropical outlook for the Atlantic Basin as of 2 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.
Tropical outlook for the Atlantic Basin as of 2 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.

Nicholas continues to pound battered Louisiana

While the Atlantic Basin simmers, Nicholas remains a daunting storm for the U.S. Southeast. Nicholas was sitting almost motionless over Louisiana on Thursday, deluging coastal Mississippi, Alabama and northwest Florida. Flash flood watches were in effect along the central Gulf Coast from southeast Louisiana, across Mississippi and Alabama, to the Florida Panhandle.

A wide swath of the region has already been pounded by 5-10 inches of rain, and some areas even more, the National Weather Service in New Orleans reported.

The weather service said heavy rains were likely to last until Nicholas dissipates over Louisiana sometime Friday. In Louisiana, the rainfall complicated an already difficult recovery for homes ripped open by Ida on Aug. 29. Tens of thousands remain without power in Texas – since Nicholas made landfall early Tuesday – and Louisiana since Hurricane Ida hit almost three weeks ago.

Hurricane season rolls into second half

The hurricane season is half over and and already 14 named tropical storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger) have rolled through the Atlantic Basin. That's behind the pace from last year but already about equal to averages for an entire season over the last 30 years.

AccuWeather is projecting 20 to 25 named tropical storms with as many as 10 hurricanes and five to seven major hurricanes in 2021.

More: Louisiana's communities of color already suffer from pollution and COVID. Now it's climate change.

Two other systems could make waves

Farther out in the open waters of the Atlantic is another potent system that recently emerged from Africa. The system has a chance of developing into a tropical depression and storm over the eastern Atlantic, AccuWeather said.

The third threat in the Atlantic is a tropical wave that could emerge off the coast of West Africa. It's too soon to know its path, and that system could still dissipate before making any trouble in the U.S.

The names that await the next three systems that reach tropical storm strength: Odette, Peter and Rose.

Hurricane Ida: Another example of extreme weather events driven by climate change

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tropical storm Nicholas stalls in Louisiana; system approaches NC