Hurricane Nicole made landfall along Florida’s east coast just south of Vero Beach early Thursday morning and quickly lost its blow and was downgraded to a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center said. Strong winds, dangerous storm surges and heavy rains were still hitting large areas of the storm-weary state, the center said.
Authorities had already closed airports and theme parks and ordered evacuations, including from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, due to a rare hurricane that struck in November.
Officials warned Nicole’s storm surge could further erode many beachesA sprawling storm is forecast to head into Georgia and Carolina late Thursday and Friday, bringing heavy rainfall across the region.
About 54,000 homes and businesses in Florida were without electricity when Nicole approached. PowerOutage.us.
Nicole was a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph early Thursday, according to the US National Hurricane Center. The threshold for a storm to be considered a hurricane is 74 mph sustained winds.
It was about 15 miles north-northwest of Fort Pierce and was traveling west-northwest at 14 miles per hour.
Strong tropical storm winds extended up to 485 miles from the center in some directions. Nicole’s center is scheduled to move across central and northern Florida to southern Georgia on Thursday and to the Carolina on Friday.
According to the Hurricane Center, several tornadoes are likely to form across eastern central and northeastern Florida through early Thursday morning. Flash floods and urban flooding are likely on Thursday as fresh water rises on the St. Johns River that crosses the Florida peninsula.
Heavy rainfall from this system is forecast to spread northward across the Southeast, the eastern Ohio Valley, the mid-Atlantic, and parts of New England through Saturday.
The large swell generated by Nicole will affect much of the northwestern Bahamas, the east coast of Florida, and the southeastern United States coast in the next few days.
Nicole weakens as it travels through Florida and the southeastern United States until Friday, and could become a tropical storm by Friday afternoon.
Nicole turned into a hurricane Wednesday night when it slammed into Grand Bahama Island hours before making landfall on Great Abaco Island as a tropical storm with winds up to 70 mph.It’s the first storm to hit the Bahamas since then.the Category 5 storm that devastated the archipelago in 2019.
For storm-weary Floridians, it was the third November hurricane to hit the coast since record-keeping began in 1853. The previous hurricanes were the 1935 Yankee Hurricane and his 1985 Hurricane Kate.
Trump’s club and home, Marlago, was in one of the evacuation zones about 400 meters inland from the sea. The main building sits on a small hill about 15 feet above sea level and has survived many powerful hurricanes since it was built nearly a century ago. The resort’s security office hung up on Wednesday after an AP reporter asked if the club had been evacuated. There were no signs of evacuation by Wednesday afternoon.
There are no penalties for ignoring evacuation orders, but rescue teams will not respond if members are in danger.
Officials at Daytona Beach Shores have determined that at least half a dozen multi-story coastal homes already damaged by Hurricane Ian and now threatened by Nicole are at risk. In some places, authorities went door to door, telling people to take their belongings and leave.
Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort announced Thursday that the parks will likely not open as scheduled.
Palm Beach International Airport closed Wednesday morning, and Daytona Beach International Airport announced it would cease operations. Orlando International Airport, the seventh busiest in the United States, was also closed. Farther south, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport experienced flight delays and cancellations, but officials said both will remain open.
At a press conference in Tallahassee, Gov. Ron DeSantis said wind was his biggest concern and could lead to major power outages, but 16,000 linemen had to wait until power was restored. It said it was on standby and had 600 guards and seven search and rescue teams on standby.
Nicole “will affect most of Florida all day long,” DeSantis said.
Nearly 20 school districts have closed schools due to the storm and 15 shelters have been opened along Florida’s east coast, according to the Florida governor.
A state of emergency has been declared in 45 of Florida’s 67 counties.
Many areas of Florida have been alerted and monitored, including the southwestern Gulf of Mexico coastline devastated by Category 4 Hurricane Ian on September 28. The storm destroyed homes and damaged crops, including orange groves, across the state. Damage that many are still dealing with.
Daniel Brown, senior hurricane specialist at the Miami-based Hurricane Center, said the storm will affect large swaths of Florida.
“Because the system is so large, almost the entire east coast of Florida, with the exception of the southeastern extremes, will experience strong tropical storm winds in the Keys,” he said.
Early Wednesday morning, President Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts to the looming storm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to respond to those in need after Hurricane Ian.
Ian brought storm surges up to 13 feet in late September, causing widespread damage.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hurricane-nicole-verge-hitting-florida/ Hurricane Nicol hits Florida’s east coast, quickly transforming into a tropical storm