A powerful storm of torrential rain and damaging winds could make landfall on Florida’s east coast as a Category 1 hurricane this week as many residents are still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
According to Jamie Rhome, acting director of the National Hurricane Center, Subtropical Storm Nicole is expected to slowly strengthen as it approaches the Florida peninsula.
“We’re probably going to have these conditions affect a good portion of the Florida peninsula,” Rome said Monday. Video synopsis posted online.
According to CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford, more than 20 million people are under tropical storm warnings from Florida’s Hallandale Beach north to Georgia’s Altamaha Sound. Additionally, a tropical storm warning has been issued for Lake Okeechobee in South Florida, he said.
In addition, more than 5 million people are under storm warnings from northern Palm Beach northward to Altamaha Sound, and from the mouth of the St. Johns River to Georgetown, Shackelford added.
More than 8 million people were under a hurricane watch in Florida as of early Tuesday, Shackelford said. The storm is expected to make landfall over West Palm Beach on Thursday morning, he said.
Areas of the state’s west coast from Bonita Beach north to the Oclochonee River were also under a tropical storm watch Tuesday morning.
Nicole was about 400 miles east-northeast of the northwestern Bahamas on Tuesday morning. It is expected to become a tropical storm later Tuesday.
Nicole is not expected to intensify as quickly as Hurricane Ian, which killed 120 people traveling in Florida in late September and devastated communities still reeling from the damage.
“We’re not predicting a major hurricane,” Rome said. “Again, not an Ian situation, but still an impactful system.”
It is forecast to become a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane by the time it approaches Florida by Thursday morning, Rome said.
“Florida residents need to take this seriously,” Rome said.
The warning is being issued as a hurricane watch is currently in effect for Florida’s east coast, from the Volusia/Brevard county line to Hallandale Beach, according to the Hurricane Center.
The watch stretches from Miami north to the Space Coast and includes Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Cape Canaveral and Melbourne.
Hurricane Nicole is moving from the northwestern Bahamas toward Florida, where a hurricane warning is in effect on Tuesday, packing sustained winds of 45 mph with maximum sustained winds.
“Don’t let the hype fool you. #Nicole is a powerful storm with major impacts not just near the center but all along the Southeast US coast. Coastal flooding, large waves and rip currents extend from tip of FL to NC,” National Weather Service explained.
As many people across Florida head to the polls Tuesday for midterm election day, forecasters are warning them to be prepared.
“Florida can expect scattered showers and thunderstorms to begin affecting parts of the state by Tuesday afternoon,” Shackelford said.
“Storm surges are combined with large and damaging waves. “Residents in the warning area should heed the advice of local officials,” the hurricane center said.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levine Cava Said online She was alerted to the storm and urged residents to prepare.
“Residents and visitors should monitor the forecast and make sure their storm kit is up-to-date,” said Levine Kava in a social media post. “We are taking all necessary precautions to prepare for potential flooding and power outages.”
Officials do not expect the storm to affect Tuesday’s election day.
Rome, the hurricane center’s acting director, said coastal flooding is possible for much of the east coast of the Florida peninsula beginning Wednesday, some of which was affected by Hurricane Ian.
The main threats to Florida are storm surges of up to 5 feet along the coast with up to 7 inches of rainfall and high winds. Those conditions are mainly forecast for Wednesday evening and Thursday.