Tropical Storm Nicole is expected to amplify into a hurricane Wednesday as parts of east-central Florida and the southeast coast approach, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Formerly a subtropical storm, it upgraded to a tropical storm this Tuesday morning.
The tropical storm is about 395 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and westbound at 10 mph.
“Everywhere in that area, including places like West Palm Beach, Stewart, Melbourne, down to Daytona Beach, everywhere here is at risk of hurricane conditions as we expect Nicole to take advantage of these warm waters and continue and intensify into a hurricane approaching the coast in the next 36 to 48 hours,” Hurricane Center Acting Deputy Director Michael Brennan said during a update tuesday.
Weather conditions along the state’s east coast are expected to worsen Tuesday night into Wednesday as tropical storm winds move inland, he said.
The center of Nicole is expected to approach the northwestern Bahamas on Tuesday and be at or near hurricane-force winds as it moves near or over the islands on Wednesday before reaching Florida’s east coast Wednesday evening. The storm is then expected to “pass through central and northern Florida into South Georgia Thursday and Thursday night,” the hurricane center said.
Nicole is a major storm with winds of 40 mph extending outward as far as 380 miles from the center, meaning the storm’s impact can be felt hundreds of miles from the center, especially on the north side of the storm due to its lopsided nature .
Hurricane conditions, including strong winds, rain and storm surge, are expected in the northwestern Bahamas and along Florida’s east coast on Wednesday, with a tropical storm warning in Georgia along the east coast.
Tropical storm conditions are also possible on Florida’s west coast, from Bonita Beach in the north to the Ochlockonee River, and on the east coast of Georgia, from the Altamaha Sound to South Carolina’s South Santee River, where tropical storm watchmen are has been issued.
Parts of Florida’s eastern, central, and northern peninsulas, as well as the northwestern Bahamas, can get anywhere from 3 to 7 inches of rain. Southeast Georgia and parts of South Carolina can get 1 to 4 inches, and heavy rainfall could spread further north along the east coast from Thursday through Friday.
“Dangerous storm surge” anywhere from 3 to 5 feet is also expected along the east coast of Florida and Georgia from North Palm Beach to the Altamaha Sound.
“These areas were significantly affected during Hurricane Ian, especially in central and northern Florida, so there is a lot of vulnerability along the coast to coastal flooding, significant wave action and storm surge,” Brennan said.
There is also a storm surge watch south of North Palm Beach to Hallandale Beach, and from Georgia’s Altamaha Sound to South Santee River in South Carolina.
Flash floods and urban flooding are also likely to hit the Florida peninsula on Wednesday and Thursday due to rises on the St. Johns River.
In the northwestern Bahamas, there can be storm surge 4 to 6 feet above normal tide along the coast.
Florida’s east coast from Boca Raton to Volusia County remains under hurricane watch, along with islands in the northwestern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama Island and the Abacos.
In Volusia County, residents prepared for the storm by building sandbags to reduce damage from flooding.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis state of emergency declared Monday for 34 counties in the storm’s path, including Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Broward, Orange and Sarasota counties.
Palm Beach County, where a local state of emergency was declared Monday, has issued a mandatory evacuation for residents living in mobile home parks, barrier islands and low-lying areas, Mayor Robert Weinroth announced in a statement. news conference Tuesday evening.
All Palm Beach County health clinics and schools in the district will also be closed Wednesday and Thursday out of an abundance of caution, officials said.
Brevard County, about two hours north of Palm Beach, has issued a recommended evacuation starting Wednesday morning. The recommendation is for residents living in mobile homes, barrier islands and low-lying areas. Those with special medical needs that require electrical dependence are also encouraged to evacuate.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will not offer tours on Wednesday “due to operational restrictions” and will close on Thursday, according to a pronunciation.
Orlando International Airport and Melbourne Orlando International Airport both announced they will be closing Wednesday afternoon due to the storm.
If Nicole hits Florida like a hurricane, it will be only the fourth ever to make landfall in the United States in November. Previously, Hurricane Kate and the Yankee Hurricane hit Florida in 1985 and 1935, respectively.
The Bahamian government has also issued a warning.
“The end-of-season storm is a reminder that we’re not out of the woods yet, as the Atlantic hurricane season continues through November 30,” the statement said.