Subtropical Storm Nicole
The latest in a storm expected to hit the east coast of Florida.
Subtropical Storm Nicole began to strengthen Tuesday as Florida’s east coast prepares for a possible Category 1 tropical storm or hurricane later this week.
Overnight, the National Hurricane Center pushed its predicted track north toward Melbourne, but Nicole’s wind field is already nearly the size of the entire state, so its effects will be felt in all of Florida starting Wednesday.
In addition to the hurricane watches already issued along Florida’s east coast, the hurricane center updated the east coast tropical storm watch early Tuesday as a warning and issued a tropical storm watch for some parts of the west coast of the state.
Early Tuesday morning, an Air Force hurricane fighter jet surveyed Nicole’s “large wind field,” according to an update from the hurricane center. The strongest winds are clustered north of the storm, which has potentially greater impacts for northeast Florida.
Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency in 34 Florida counties, including South Florida. Coastal county officials have warned that some evacuations may be necessary, but none have yet been called and no school closures have been announced.
Later Tuesday at 10 a.m. Drawbridges in Miami-Dade County will begin to be locked to marine traffic. Locked bridges include those over the Intracoastal and the Miami River.
As Nicole moves forward, Florida residents shouldn’t focus too much on the cone of the hurricane map, said CBS Miami meteorologist Lissette Gonzalez.
“It’s a huge system and we’re going to feel the impact of it here,” she said on Tuesday.
At 7 a.m. Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center placed Subtropical Storm Nicole 385 miles east-northeast of the northwest Bahamas. The storm, with sustained winds of 50 mph, was moving northwest at 8 mph.
Forecasters say South Florida could face flooding, heavy rain, storm surge and high winds Wednesday night and Thursday as the storm hits the coast. Hurricane conditions are expected in parts of the Bahamas on Wednesday.
The hurricane center predicts that central Nicole will make landfall Wednesday night or early Thursday, but the storm’s strongest winds are concentrated to the north, so northeast Florida could feel the brunt of the storms. Nicole winds up a bit later.
The storm surge will peak on Wednesday, when tides are still high from Tuesday’s royal tide, one of the highest annual tides. In Miami-Dade, the hurricane center predicts up to two feet of storm surge. This prediction includes the King Tide floods.
Storm surge forecasts increase further up the coast, with two to four feet expected in coastal Broward and Palm Beach counties, and three to five feet surge expected from northern Palm Beach County to Jacksonville.
That, coupled with up to three to five inches of rain across the state, could cause severe coastal flooding. The hurricane center has issued storm surge watches and warnings for most of the coast, and Miami-Dade is under a coastal flood advisory.
Nicole is expected to make a sharp left turn toward the Bahamas and Florida and transition into a tropical storm on Tuesday. Forecasters said the broad wind field, mostly to the north of the storm, could consolidate as Nicole gets closer, delivering a stronger blow.
Jamie Rhome, acting director of the National Hurricane Center, said Floridians should be prepared for a low-end hurricane or a high-end tropical storm. Preparations should be complete by sunset Tuesday for east coast residents, he said.
“Not an Ian situation, but still a potentially impactful one,” Rhome said. “Florida residents need to be careful.”
Watch and warning
▪ A tropical storm watch has been issued for the west coast of Florida north of Bonita Beach to the Ochlockonee River.
▪ A tropical storm warning has been issued from Hallandale Beach in Broward County to Altamaha Sound, Georgia, the hurricane center said Monday in its 10 p.m. advisory. Lake Okeechobee is also under a tropical storm warning.
▪ The hurricane center also upgraded the storm surge watch to a storm surge warning from North Palm Beach north to Altamaha Sound, including the mouth of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville to in Georgetown.
▪ A storm surge watch has been issued south of North Palm Beach to Hallandale Beach.
▪ A hurricane watch is in effect for the east coast of Florida from the Volusia-Brevard county line to Hallandale Beach and Lake Okeechobee. And the area from Hallandale Beach north of Ocean Reef — including Miami-Dade County — is under a tropical storm watch.
Forecasters said Nicole was expected to make landfall Wednesday night, but high winds, flooding and storm surge could kick in earlier in the day.
This report will be updated
This story was originally published November 8, 2022 4:15 a.m.