Tropical Storm Nicole has strengthened – with scattered showers affecting parts of Florida this midterm Election Day – and is expected to strengthen further before slamming the state’s east coast early Thursday as the first hurricane to reach the United States in November for almost 40 years.
Hurricane warnings remain in effect Tuesday for parts of Florida ahead of Nicole’s expected landfall early Thursday morning north of West Palm Beach as a Category 1 hurricane with heavy rain and damaging winds, as many across the states after Hurricane Ian.
Track Nicole here
“#Nicole is a terrible storm that will have major impacts along the southeast coast of the US, not just near the center. Coastal flooding, large waves and rip currents will extend from the top of FL to NC,” National Weather Service tweeted.
With sustained 65-mph winds Tuesday afternoon, Nicole was 395 miles east of West Palm Beach and continues to strengthen and become more organized. Beginning Wednesday, it’s due to heavy rain that could lead to dangerous storm surges and high winds, said Jamie Rhome, acting director of the National Hurricane Center.
It is expected to become a strong tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane — with sustained winds of at least 74 mph — by the time it reaches Florida Wednesday afternoon into Thursday morning, Rhome said Monday in video briefing posted online.
Up to 7 inches of rain and a storm surge that could rise up to 5 feet along the coast, along with high winds, are forecast mainly Wednesday afternoon and Thursday.
“The storm surge will be accompanied by large, destructive waves. Residents in the warning area should heed advice from local officials,” the hurricane center said.
Orlando International Airport will suspend operations beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday “until circumstances allow operations to resume,” the state’s busiest airport said Tuesday afternoon. Twitter.
Volusia County, where Daytona Beach is located, issued a mandatory evacuation order for some residents as of Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET, including those east of the intracoastal waterway or in flood-prone areas, all locations camping and RV parks and all mobile and manufactured homes. .
“Tropical Storm Nicole poses a direct threat to property and life,” County Manager George Recktenwald said on the Volusia County website. “Our infrastructure, especially on the coast, is very vulnerable due to the impact of Hurricane Ian. We expect more erosion along the beach, as well as flooding in areas previously flooded by Ian. Residents need to take this storm seriously.”
Brevard County on Tuesday issued an evacuation advisory beginning Wednesday for some residents, including people on the barrier islands, “including areas from the south beaches of Kennedy Space Center, and Merritt Island,” those in areas that prone to flooding, residents of mobile and manufactured homes, and people with special medical needs who are dependent on electricity.
Southeast Florida is already experiencing some of the highest tides of the year, thanks to this month’s full moon. Tropical Storm Nicole’s approach will push these tides much higher, creating even higher water levels and more beach erosion for coastal communities on the state’s east coast during the next several high tide cycles, according to the National Weather Service.
The superstorm has strengthened creating a steady flow of onshore winds that will only increase as Nicole gets closer, pushing and piling up the water onshore, so that coastal flooding and beach erosion are possible even before Nicole does. fall down
“These winds, high seas and surf will combine with astronomically high tides to bring the threat of significant beach erosion around the next high tide cycles,” said the NWS in Melbourne.
But flooding in the state will not be limited to the immediate coast, as heavy rains will also cause freshwater flooding well inland.
The St. John’s River in Florida remains at Moderate Flood Stage from Hurricane Ian. Nicole’s passage and the resulting rain are expected to raise the water again on this slow-moving river, creating renewed flooding concerns.
“Major Flood Levels are forecast to reach 4.0 feet again on Friday, remaining steady into the weekend. A higher rise is possible depending on rainfall totals as well as a northerly wind surge leading to water backup on Lake George,” the NWS said.
More than 5 million people are under a storm surge warning from North Palm Beach, Florida, north to Altamaha Sound, Georgia, including the mouth of the St. Johns to Georgetown.
The storm is not expected to grow as quickly as Ian did in late September before killing at least 120 people in Florida and devastating communities still reeling from the devastation. No hurricane has hit the US in November since Hurricane Kate hit Florida as a Category 2 in 1985.
“We’re not predicting a major hurricane,” Rhome said. “Again, not Ian’s case, but a system that could still have an impact.”
Nearly 2 million people are now under a hurricane warning that stretches from Boca Raton to the Flagler-Volusia County line; a hurricane watch runs north from there to Ponte Vedra Beach.
Nearly 15 million people are under a tropical storm warning – and conditions are expected in the zone within 36 hours – from Hallandale Beach, Florida, north to Altamaha Sound, Georgia, as well as Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida. And along the state’s west coast – from Bonita Beach north to the Ochlockonee River – there are areas that are currently losing Ian to tropical storm watch.
A tropical storm watch was issued Tuesday from Altamaha Sound in Georgia to the South Santee River in South Carolina, and a storm surge watch was issued from the Savannah River to the South Santee River in South Carolina and from the Suwannee River to the Ochlockonee River. in Florida.
The mayor of Miami-Dade County urged residents to prepare for the storm.
“Residents and visitors should monitor the forecast and make sure their storm gear is up to date,” Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said online. “We are taking all necessary precautions to prepare for possible flooding and power outages.”
Miami-Dade County officials do not expect the storm to affect Election Day, Levine Cava said.