Hurricane Nicole heads for Florida as a Category 1 storm

Hurricane Nicole was heading into Florida, expected to make landfall after midnight, and much of the state’s east coast had already begun to feel the effects of the Category 1 storm on Wednesday long before it landfall. the Sunshine State.

Regions from as far north as South Carolina to the Treasure and Space Coasts and as far south as Hallandale Beach are expected to see hurricane conditions, tropical storm conditions or sea surges. life-threatening storm moving inland from the coast.

The Category 1 storm, producing winds of 75 mph from 10 p.m., strengthened into a hurricane on Wednesday evening and made landfall on Grand Bahama Island, bringing the potential for a storm surge to raise the water levels up to 6 feet along the northwest Bahamas. before leaving for Florida.

Hurricane Nicole is expected to make landfall near the coasts of Martin and St. Lucia counties shortly after midnight, according to the National Weather Service Melbourne.

The area from northern Palm Beach County to the Melbourne area is most at risk.

“We are seeing tropical-force winds and storm surges along much of Florida’s east coast,” said Michael Brennan, acting deputy director of the National Hurricane Center. “From Palm Beach to Daytona Beach, Flagler Beach and St. Augustine.”

At 10 p.m., the center of the storm was about 75 miles east-northeast of West Palm Beach, moving west-northwest at 13 mph. Hurricane-force winds from Nicole extend up to 25 miles from its center while tropical-storm-force winds reach up to 485 miles from its center.

The storm’s wind field is exceptionally large, meaning wherever the center of Nicole strikes, the entire east coast of Florida is susceptible to high winds, heavy rains and storm surges.

Several counties could see high wind gusts through Thursday morning – up to 75 mph in Palm Beach County and northern Brevard County, up to 80 mph in St. Lucie County, the interior Indian River County and southern Brevard County and up to 85 mph in coastal Indian River County, according to the Melbourne National Weather Service.

A gust of 62 mph was reported at Juno Beach, as the storm’s broad wind field reached south Florida and the region began to close in preparation for a strike by a rare November hurricane.

“Most of the winds we’ve seen so far have been confined to the Palm Beach coast,” said Chris Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “We received reports of coastal flooding up there at high tide this morning.”

In Broward and Palm Beach counties, coastal neighborhoods are at risk of more flooding during the second high tide, he said.

An emergency declaration has been approved by President Joe Biden for 40 counties, making federal aid available. The majority of Florida counties are under states of emergency – 45 of 67 counties.

Governor Ron DeSantis said 600 members of the Florida National Guard have been activated and several search and rescue teams have been put on standby.

At least five counties are under hurricane warnings, and all interior counties in east-central Florida are under tropical storm warnings, according to the Weather Service. The entire east coast of east-central Florida is under a storm surge warning, with surge potential 3 to 5 feet above the ground. The weather service has predicted that some waves will be greater than 10 feet in these areas.

The entirety of east-central Florida will see tropical storm-force winds Wednesday evening while the Treasure Coast will see hurricane-force wind gusts along the coast, according to the weather service. Some areas that were damaged during Hurricane Ian in September may fare worse than others during Nicole.

“Coastal areas in Volusia County that sustained severe damage from Hurricane Ian remain particularly vulnerable to additional beach erosion and flooding from coastal flooding,” the weather service said.

Thousands of residents have been ordered to evacuate, including in Palm Beach County. Residents can check their evacuation zone here.

The evacuations affect about 52,000 mobile home residents countywide and 67,000 coastal residents, Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker said.

Other counties along the coast that have issued mandatory and voluntary evacuations include Martin, Indian River, St. Lucie, Brevard, Volusia, Flagler and St. Johns.

Schools closed Wednesday and Thursday in South Florida, Brevard County, Martin County and St. Lucie counties.

Orlando International Airport, Orlando Sanford International Airport, Palm Beach International Airport, Daytona Beach International Airport and Melbourne Orlando International Airport had all closed on Wednesday. Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld in Orlando also closed on Wednesday.

Eric Silagy, president and CEO of Florida Power & Light Company, warned the storm will cause power outages as trees and vegetation that were weakened in recent Hurricane Ian will be toppled.

“It’s very likely that we’ll see outages due to the storm,” Silagy said.

A total of 6,750 customers across the state reported power outages Wednesday night, the majority of them in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Brevard counties.

The highest risk area begins in northern Palm Beach County and goes north, the National Weather Service said. Hurricane-force winds could hit this area around 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Tropical storm-force winds, meaning winds of at least 39 mph, are expected to die out in Palm Beach and Broward counties by Thursday morning.

Unless the center of the storm passes over Palm Beach County, in which case it is likely to have hurricane-force winds, here is the National Weather Service forecast for maximum wind speeds from south of the Florida:

  • North and Coast of Palm Beach County: 40-60 mph, with gusts over 75 mph
  • South and Interior Palm Beach County: 30-40 mph with gusts to 60 mph
  • Broward County: 5-25 mph, gusting to 35-40 mph.

Even as bands of rain from the storm began to rake South Florida, residents were heading to stores for supplies.

“I’m not scared of this storm,” Michael Lemieux, 77, said in the rain-swept parking lot of a Costco in Davie. “I would be if I lived near the sea but I think I’m quite inland.”

Lisa Weiss of Davie, a teacher from Broward, said she was using her day off to stock up on supplies. She loaded crates of water into her car as the rain began to fall. “I’m from Florida, so I’m used to storms,” ​​she said. “I think we’re going to have some flooding.”

Peak conditions from Tropical Storm Nicole at 10 a.m. Wednesday

Tropical storm conditions have raked the east coast of Florida in warning areas, and hurricane conditions are expected beginning Wednesday evening or overnight in areas where the hurricane warning is in effect .

Nicole will weaken as it moves into central and northern Florida and southern Georgia on Thursday and Thursday night, according to the center’s latest advisory, and into the Carolinas on Friday.

Nicole is likely to develop into a post-tropical cyclone by Friday afternoon, according to the latest advisory from the hurricane center.

Waves washed ashore on Surf Road near Desoto Street in Hollywood as Tropical Storm Nicole continues to move towards the Florida coast on Wednesday.

“Life-threatening” storm surge is possible along the coasts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, the National Weather Service said. Storm surge, the wind-driven sea level rise that caused many deaths when Hurricane Ian hit the Gulf Coast in September, could reach 2 to 4 feet in South Florida and be “accompanied by ‘large destructive waves,'” the National Hurricane Center said.

A storm surge watch has been extended westward along the panhandle from the Ochlockonee River to Indian Pass. Storm surge watches are in place from North Palm Beach south to Hallandale Beach, from the Anclote River to the Ochlockonee River, and from Altamaha Sound in Georgia to the South Santee River in South Carolina. Storm surge warnings are in effect for North Palm Beach to Altamaha Sound and the mouth of the St. Johns River to Georgetown, Florida.

South Florida will see the heaviest rainfall from the storm between Wednesday and Thursday, according to the weather service. Between 4 and 6 inches are expected in parts of Palm Beach County and Broward County, although higher amounts are possible in some areas.

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“The combination of dangerous storm surge and tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be inundated by rising waters moving inland from the shore,” said the centre’s latest advisory. hurricanes.

From Hallandale Beach to North Palm Beach, the storm surge could reach 2 to 4 feet and 1 to 2 feet from Ocean Reef north to Hallandale Beach, including Biscayne Bay. From North Palm Beach to Altamaha Sound, the storm surge could reach 3 to 5 feet, according to the center’s latest advisory.

Waves hit a home on Hollywood Beach at Walnut Street and Surf Road as Tropical Storm Nicole continues to move towards our coast on Wednesday, November 9, 2022

So far this season, there have been two major hurricanes, meaning Category 3 or higher: Fiona and Ian.

The next named storm to form would be Owen.

NOAA predicted at least four more hurricanes will form before the official end of hurricane season on Nov. 30.

This is a developing story, so check back for updates. Click here to receive news alerts straight to your inbox.

Sun Sentinel staff writers Cindy Krischer Goodman and Shira Moolten, and Orlando Sentinel staff writers Mark Skoneki and Richard Tribou contributed to this report.

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