Hurricane Nicole bringing strong winds and coastal flooding to Florida
Hurricane Nicole knocked out power to thousands of customers in eastern Florida early Thursday, as the National Hurricane Center warned it would make landfall in the state "in the next couple of hours."
Threat level: The storm was bringing damaging storm surge flooding along the east coast of Florida, north to Georgia and South Carolina, along with heavy rain and damaging winds. Flooding was reported early Thursday in Port Orange and Palm Beach Shores, where a carpark was inundated with floodwaters.
The latest: By 2:30am Thursday ET, about 55,000 customers without power in Florida's Brevard, Palm Beach and St Lucie counties, according to utility tracker poweroutages.us.
- The center of the storm was about 15 miles east of Fort Pierce at 2am. It was moving west-northwest at 14mph, with maximum sustained winds of 75mph.
State of play: Coastal flooding, tropical storm force winds and heavy rains were buffeting much of the state of Florida, with flooding and gusty winds also in Georgia and coastal South Carolina. A weather observing station at Lake Worth Pier, Florida, recorded a wind gust to 59 mph this afternoon.
Of note: If Nicole does hit Florida, as expected, it would be the latest in the season that such a storm has hit the state. In fact, even if it is a strong tropical storm, it may rank as one of the top 5 strongest storms to hit the U.S. so late in the season.
- The storm's extraordinary reach, with tropical storm force winds extending 460 miles from the center, ensures that the east and west coasts of Florida will see strong winds from this storm.
- Hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge warnings and watches are in effect from southeastern Florida to South Carolina.
- The hurricane warnings include locations such as West Palm Beach, Daytona Beach and Cape Canaveral. Tropical Storm warmings extend northward to Charleston, S.C. and on Florida's west coast from south of Tampa to Tallahassee.
Zoom in: The greatest level of storm surge flooding was expected between North Palm Beach, Florida to Altamaha Sound, Georgia, including the St. Johns River. There, surge heights above normally dry ground will range from 3 to 5 feet, the NHC forecasts, calling the risks "life-threatening."
- Storm surge flooding was forecast for the Big Bend area of Florida, a surge-prone region on the state's west coast, since the storm is forecast to emerge over the Gulf of Mexico before turning sharply north-northeast, into Georgia.
- The hurricane was forecast to bring up to 8 inches of rain to parts of Florida.
- Mandatory and voluntary evacuations took place along the eastern Florida coast ahead of the storm surge. There were reports of evacuations near Daytona Beach for apartment towers and a few hotels due to beach erosion from Hurricane Ian and now from Nicole putting their stability in danger.
Context: Sea level rise from climate change worsens the impacts of storm surge flooding and erosion.
Between the lines: Parts of the state where the water only recently subsided after Hurricane Ian, such as along the St. Johns River, were likely to see renewed flooding from this storm.
- Heavy rains will spread north as the storm turns up the eastern seaboard, with up to six inches of rain possible in parts of the Appalachians and Blue Ridge Mountains, with soaking rains in the Washington to Boston corridor by this weekend.
- NASA is leaving its Artemis I rocket on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral to ride out the storm, but has postponed its Nov. 14 launch attempt to Nov. 16.
- NHC forecasters are cautioning against focusing on Nicole's exact track, stating the storm will bring "Hazards extending well to the north of the center, outside of the forecast cone. These hazards are likely to affect much of the Florida peninsula and portions of the southeast United States."
Background: Shortly before noon, Nicole made landfall on Great Abaco Island at near-hurricane strength. It was upgraded to a hurricane at 6pm, while 105 miles east of West Palm Beach.
Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout with the latest forecast information and details of power outages.