Hurricane Nicole made landfall off Florida’s east coast early Thursday after strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane after swept through the Bahamas.
The National Hurricane Center said in a 3 a.m. advisory that radar images showed the center of the storm made landfall on North Hutchinson Island, just south of Vero Beach.
Nicole arrived ashore over Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas with maximum winds of 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane’s approach has left many communities anxious after having already endured the wrath of Hurricane Ian, which swept the coast of southwest Florida on Sept. 28 as a Category 4 hurricane. At least 109 people died.
According to the Hurricane Center, Nicole will bring strong winds, a dangerous storm surge and heavy rainfall as it approaches East Florida.
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.
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.
After making landfall in the US, Nicole’s center is expected to move through central and northern Florida Thursday and Thursday nights into southern Georgia and into the Carolinas on Friday.
This is what we know.
Here is the latest data on Hurricane Nicole from the National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. EST advisory.
Nicole is now a Category 1 hurricane. Category 1 hurricanes hold dangerous winds of 74 to 95 mph, which can cause some damage to homes, trees and power lines.
early wednesday, a National Ocean Service station on Lake Worth Pier reported sustained winds of 44 mph and a gust of 55 mph. The center of Nicole is approaching Florida’s east coast within the hurricane warning zone Wednesday night.
Nicole was expected to weaken as she passed through Florida and the southeastern United States Thursday through Friday, becoming a post-tropical cyclone over the mid-Atlantic by Friday night.
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Tropical storm conditions in the northwestern Bahamas and parts of Florida’s east coast are expected to spill over to Georgia and South Carolina later Wednesday. The National Hurricane Center also forecast hurricane conditions in Florida for Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
According to the Hurricane Center, Nicole could cause a dangerous storm surge of up to 1.5 meters in areas along the coasts of Florida and Georgia, and could raise water levels in the Bahamas as high as 6 meters.
Forecasters predicted “a few tornadoes” from Wednesday night through Thursday in East Florida, Southeast Georgia and South South Carolina.
Precipitation will be a major concern, Kottlowski said. Nicole is expected to drench the northwestern Bahamas and parts of Florida with between 3 and 5 inches of rain before we head north.
“There’s a possibility of a lot of flash flooding in the western Carolinas up to maybe the mountains of Virginia and into Pennsylvania,” Kottlowski said.
In anticipation of Hurricane Nicole, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that 15 shelters were opening along the state’s coast on Wednesday.
DeSantis advised people to move to safer inland areas and that Floridians could expect power outages. About 16,000 line workers are prepared to restore power. DeSantis added that 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. Schools, universities, airports and theme parks will be closed on Thursday.
17 school districts were closed or fired early on Wednesday and at least 23 school districts will be closed on Thursday.
Florida State University, the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida and the University of North Florida will close on Thursday. The University of South Florida plans to move all remote classes and close campus on Thursday.
Several airports, including Orlando International Airport, have announced that they will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday.
Disney World and Universal Orlando also announced early closures on Wednesday and are likely to close on Thursday.
Only one hurricane on record made landfall in the continental US after Nov. 4. That was Hurricane Kate on Nov. 21, 1985, which hit with a Category 2 intensity near Mexico Beach, Florida, said hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University.
Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station prepare huge moon-bound Artemis I rocket for Nicole down on Florida.
The rocket will ride out of the storm on pad 39B of the Kennedy Space Center. Officials forgo the multi-day task of rolling the multi-billion dollar rocket toward the Vehicle Assembly Building, some four miles away. The building can accommodate wind speeds of up to 85 mph, and Category 1 storm winds are between 74 and 95 mph.
“The rocket is designed to withstand heavy rain on the launch pad, and the spacecraft’s hatches are secured to prevent water ingress,” NASA said in a statement.
NASA confirmed Tuesday that it would delay the launch of the Space Launch System rocket to no earlier than 1:04 a.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 16, due to Nicole.
AFTER HURRICANE IAN:New criticism of the ‘cone of uncertainty’
Contributors: Ashley R. Williams, Doyle Rice USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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