- Nicole strengthened overnight, with computer models projecting it to make landfall as a Cat 1 hurricane in Florida
- DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 34 counties in anticipation of the storm’s arrival early Thursday morning
- A combination of the storm’s path, strong easterly winds boosting its wind impact, and higher than usual tidal forces could magnify the storm’s damage
Subtropical Storm Nicole gained strength overnight Monday with 50-mph sustained winds east-northeast of the Bahamas. The storm is currently moving to the northwest – and towards Florida’s east coast – at 8 mph. That would bring it to landfall around 4am Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane, according to the latest computer models.
Forecasters also warn that the combination of Nicole’s perpendicular track aiming straight into the Florida peninsula, strong winds from the east and the timing of tidal forces – and higher tides – will increase the impact on coastal areas between West Palm Beach and Jacksonville Beach, and in some cases could be more damaging than Ian. A water level rise of several feet is expected wherever the storm makes landfall and to the north of that point. A broad zone of storm surge from between Florida’s Space Coast to Daytona Beach could exceed 6 feet.
Governor Ron DeSantis has already declared declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Nicole’s arrival. The order acknowledges expected long-duration impacts from surf, wind and rain effects for 34 counties that appear to be in the path of Nicole.
“While this storm does not, at this time, appear that it will become much stronger, I urge all Floridians to be prepared and to listen to announcements from local emergency management officials,” DeSantis said. “We will continue to monitor the trajectory and strength of this storm as it moves towards Florida.”
While acknowledging that Nicole’s intensity and path will likely change, DeSantis urged Floridians in the target counties to prepare for it. Wind gusts could be felt as early as Tuesday along Florida’s East Coast.
Counties under the State of Emergency include Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, DeSoto, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, and Volusia.