Hurricane Nicole Forces Evacuations in Florida and the Bahamas

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Tropical Storm Nicole is forcing evacuations in the Bahamas and parts of Florida. And meteorologists are watching closely as the storm threatens to grow into a Category 1 hurricane.

Nicole made landfall on Great Abaco island in the Bahamas on Wednesday, Nov. 9, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. With the threat of maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, hundreds of people had already left their homes for higher ground.

“We are forecasting it to become a hurricane as it nears the northwestern Bahamas and remain a hurricane as it approaches the east coast of Florida,” said Daniel Brown, a senior hurricane specialist at the Miami-based National Hurricane Center on Wed. morning.

The storm caused flooding and power outages in Grand Abaco. And more than 520 people waited for clear skies from inside one of two dozen shelters.

Tropical Storm Nicole is now making its way to the U.S. coast. As of Wed afternoon, the storm surge had breached the sea wall along Indian River Drive, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office. And the Martin County Sheriff’s office reported that some roadways on Hutchinson Island were beginning to flood.

45 Florida Counties Under a State of Emergency as Tropical Storm Nicole Nears

Meanwhile, Flagler, Palm Beach, Martin, and Volusia county residents living in low-lying areas and mobile homes were ordered to evacuate. Daytona Beach officials also imposed a curfew and warned that intercoastal bridges would not be accessible by evacuees once winds reach 39 mph.

Palm Beach International Airport shut down on Wed. morning. And both Daytona Beach International Airport and Orlando International Airport are planning to follow suit.

Universal Orlando Resort and Disney World also closed early on Wed and shared that they would likely stay closed on Thursday. Around two dozen school districts also shut down ahead of Tropical Storm Nicole.

As it stands, 45 of the state’s 67 counties are sitting under a state of emergency. And officials have opened 15 shelters for coastal residents.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in a press conference that he has 16,000 linemen on standby as high winds are expected to cause wide-spread power outages, and 600 guardsmen and seven search and rescue teams have been ordered to head out once the storm passes.

“It will affect huge parts of the state of Florida all day,” DeSantis said of the storm’s expected landing.

Florida Division of Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie noted that aside from strong winds, Nicole is also expected to cause rip currents, and flash flooding. Tornadoes are also a possibility.