FLORIDA – Residents of barrier islands on Florida’s east coast, including Cape Canaveral, are under a voluntary evacuation order as Tropical Storm Nicole approaches the state, with orders evacuation plans that are expected to go into effect Wednesday in parts of Palm Beach and Volusia counties, according to Florida emergency management officials.
On Tuesday evening, as the nation was consumed by the results of the midterm elections, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida and ordered disaster relief assistance from the Department of Homeland Security. and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Alachua, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Desoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands counties , Hillsborough, Indian River, Jefferson, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns , St. Lucia, Sumter, Taylor, Volusia and Wakulla and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
During its 7 a.m. briefing, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Tropical Storm Nicole is expected to make landfall between northern Palm Beach County and Vero Beach between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday.
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A hurricane fighter jet flying into the storm Wednesday morning said Nicole had strengthened overnight and would continue to strengthen Wednesday, strengthening into a hurricane near the northwest Bahamas and remaining a hurricane when it reaches the east coast of Florida Wednesday night.
The storm is now producing maximum sustained winds of 70mph with stronger gusts, just 5mph below the threshold to be declared a hurricane.
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Forecasters from the hurricane center said it was a large tropical storm with tropical storm-force winds extending 460 miles from the center of the storm.
For the past few hours, a National Ocean Service station at the Lake Worth Pier reported sustained winds of 44 mph and a wind gust of 55 mph.
“In coastal areas, especially from the Florida Space Coast to the Carolinas, tropical storm-force wind gusts can occur for 36 to 48 hours at a time,” said Dan DePodwin, director of forecast operations for ‘AccuWeather. “That’s a longer duration than typical tropical systems.”
The long period of impacts “will take its toll”, he said.
The storm is now about 240 miles east of West Palm Beach and moving south-southwest toward Great Abaco Island in the northwest Bahamas at 13 mph.
Nicole is expected to turn northwest on Thursday. The center of the storm is expected to move through central and northern Florida, then track north-northeastward into southern Georgia Thursday night and across the Carolinas Friday night.
- At 7 a.m., a hurricane warning was issued for the Florida coast from Boca Raton to the Flagler/Volusia county line.
- A tropical storm warning is in effect for Hallandale Beach in Boca Raton, the Flagler/Volusia County line to the South Santee River in South Carolina, north of Bonita Beach to Indian Pass and Lake Okeechobee.
- A storm surge warning is in effect for North Palm Beach to Altamaha Sound, Georgia, and the mouth of the St. Johns River to Georgetown, Florida.
- A hurricane watch is in effect for Hallandale Beach to Boca Raton and Lake Okeechobee.
- A storm surge watch is in effect for North Palm Beach south to Hallandale Beach, Altamaha Sound to South Santee River and Anclote River to Indian Pass on the west coast.
National Hurricane Center
A tropical storm watch is in effect from south of Hallandale Beach to north of Ocean Reef.
A warning means that these conditions are expected within 36 hours and that residents must rush to complete tasks to protect their lives and property.
A watch means that storm conditions are expected within 48 hours.
The combination of dangerous storm surge and tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shore.
The water could reach the following heights above the ground if the peak wave occurs at the time of high tide:
- North Palm Beach Florida to Altamaha Sound including the St. Johns River to the Fuller Warren Bridge – 3 to 5 feet.
- Altamaha Sound to the South Santee River in South Carolina – 2 to 4 feet.
- St. Johns River south of the Fuller Warren Bridge to Georgetown, Florida – 2 to 4 feet.
- Hallandale Beach in North Palm Beach – 2 to 4 feet.
- Anclote River at Indian Pass on the west coast—2 to 4 feet.
- Englewood to Anclote River including Tampa Bay – 1 to 3 feet.
- North of Ocean Reef to Hallandale Beach including Biscayne Bay – 1-2 feet.
Floridians can expect North Florida to get 3 to 5 inches of rain with localized areas up to 8 inches.
Flash and urban flooding will be likely, as well as possible on the St. Johns River across the Florida peninsula Wednesday through Thursday.
A few tornadoes are possible this Wednesday evening in eastern Florida, southeast Georgia and southern South Carolina.
Heavy swells on Florida’s northeast coast are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip currents.
In anticipation of the storm, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 34 Florida counties on Monday.
The storm developed more than a month after Hurricane Ian hit the Fort Myers area on September 28, killing 130 people in the state, causing billions in damage and devastating the barrier islands of Sanibel, Pine and Captiva.
Nicole is the 14th named storm of the 2022 Atlantic season, which ends in late November.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, if Nicole hits Florida as a hurricane as predicted, it will be the first November hurricane to hit the United States in 37 years.
The last hurricane to make landfall in November was Hurricane Kate, which hit Florida on November 21, 1985, as a Category 2 hurricane.
Forecasters from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center said in their annual forecast for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1 and runs through November 30, that the season is expected to be active.
This year’s forecast of the ongoing La Niña, in addition to above-average ocean temperatures, means there is a 65% chance that the 2022 hurricane season will be above normal. For the 2022 season, forecasters predict 14 to 21 named storms with winds of 39 mph or more. Of those, between six and 10 of the storms could become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or more.
This year’s season could also bring between three and six major hurricanes rated Category 3 or higher, forecasters said.
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