Nicole slammed into east-central Florida on Thursday as the system, downgraded to a tropical storm, moved inland with strong winds and heavy rain.
The rare November hurricane made landfall just south of Vero Beach on the state’s east coast early Thursday as a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.
The storm was expected to move into Georgia and the Carolinas later Thursday and Friday, and heavy rainfall could flood parts of the region.
Nicole strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane as she made landfall on Grand Bahama Island on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is the first hurricane to make landfall on Florida’s east coast this late in the year.
New warnings and alerts were issued for many parts of Florida, including the southwestern Gulf shoreline that was devastated by Hurricane Ian, which struck as a Category 4 storm on Sept. 28. The storm destroyed homes and damaged crops, including orange groves, around the world. condition – damage that many still deal with.
The Hurricane Center warned Nicole would cause heavy downpours, high winds and a dangerous storm surge on Wednesday evening. Nicole is also expected to cause flashes and urban flooding. It had already led to officials closing airports and theme parks and ordering evacuations, including former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
As a tropical storm, Nicole first made landfall on Great Abaco Island in the northwest Bahamas at 11:55 a.m. Wednesday. The storm reportedly had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
Officials in the Bahamas said more than 860 people were in more than two dozen shelters. Major floods, fallen trees, and power and water outages were reported in the northwestern region of the archipelago.
In Florida, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet that Nicole’s storm surge had already breached the seawall along Indian River Drive, which runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office also said seawater had breached part of a road on Hutchinson Island.
Residents in several Florida counties — Flagler, Palm Beach, Martin and Volusia — were ordered to evacuate such barrier islands, lowland areas and mobile homes. Volusia, home to Daytona Beach, imposed a curfew, warning that intercoastal bridges used by evacuees would close if winds reach 63 mph.
About 400 people checked into evacuation centers in Palm Beach County on Wednesday.
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States affected by Nicole
Nicole is expected to affect most of Florida and parts of the US Southeastern region
After reaching Florida’s east coast, Nicole’s center is expected to move through central and northern Florida Thursday night into southern Georgia and into the Carolinas on Friday.
Forecasters predicted tornadoes from Wednesday night through Thursday in East Florida, Southeast Georgia and South South Carolina. Heavy rainfall is the main concern and Nicole could set off a dangerous storm surge of up to 1.5 meters in areas along the Florida and Georgia coasts.
Several communities on Florida’s east coast have been advised or ordered to evacuate. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that 15 shelters were opening Wednesday along the state’s coast.
DeSantis said the Florida National Guard has activated 600 guards, in addition to seven urban search and rescue teams on standby.
President Joe Biden also approved federal emergency aid to 45 of Florida’s 67 counties, along with the Miccosukee Tribe and Seminole Tribe.
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Category 1 hurricanes sustain dangerous winds of 74 to 95 mph, which can cause some damage to homes, trees and power lines.
DeSantis said Floridians can expect power outages. About 16,000 line workers are prepared to restore power.
At least six-story coastal residential buildings in Daytona Beach Shores that were already damaged by Hurricane Ian are under threat from Nicole, according to local officials.
Wind gusts north of Nicole’s eye between 60 and 80 mph will occur, with gusts close to 100 mph possible, according to AccuWeather. Under these conditions, structural damage can occur and sporadic power outages can be hundreds of miles from where Nicole’s center makes landfall.
Hurricane Nicole tracker
Contributions: The Associated Press