Nicole Strengthens Into Tropical Storm, Expected To Hit Florida as Category 1 Hurricane

by Shelby Scott
(Photo credit RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images)

We’re nearing the end of hurricane season here in the U.S. However, populations along the United States’ southeastern and Gulf coasts don’t expect to catch a break anytime soon. Areas across Florida and neighboring states were absolutely devastated at the end of September by Category 4 storm, Hurricane Ian. The massive storm system took more than 100 lives and destroyed homes and commercial structures statewide. Now, a new tropical disturbance has officially strengthened into a tropical storm, with meteorologists labeling the system Nicole. Nicole is expected to slam into Florida as a hurricane later this week. Forecasters expect Tropical Storm Nicole to move onto land as a much less powerful though still dangerous Category 1 storm.

Florida to See Its Second Hurricane in Weeks

ABC News reports that Tropical Storm Nicole is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane by Wednesday night. This time, however, Florida’s east coast will bear the brunt of the impact. The National Weather Service predicts the storm will make landfall near Melbourne or Cocoa Beach early Thursday morning. 

Again, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency. The news outlet states that the declaration affects 37 of the Sunshine State’s 67 counties. 

Further, Floridians, who spent days without electricity following Hurricane Ian’s impact just weeks ago have been told to expect power outages once again as Tropical Storm Nicole approaches. Ahead of the soon-to-be hurricane’s landfall, Florida Light & Power activated its emergency response plan to aid linemen in answering reported outages as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

The company’s CEO and chairman, Eric Silagy, also spoke about the dangers facing Floridians ahead of Hurricane Nicole following Ian’s impact. 

“[Hurricane] Ian saturated soil and weakened trees in many parts of the state,” Silagy explained. “So Nicole could cause trees to topple over and other vegetation and debris to blow into overhead powerlines and equipment, which may cause outages.” 

Hurricane Nicole Expected to Bring Flash Flooding & Storm Surges

Though Florida remains heavily saturated following Hurricane Ian, regions along its east coast can expect increased amounts of rainfall and flooding. Again, some Floridians can also expect higher-than-average storm surges. 

The coming storm surges shouldn’t compare to the 12+ foot waves we saw with Hurricane Ian. Still, Daytona and West Palm Beach waves could range anywhere between 2 and 5 feet high. Experts expect the highest storm surges to take place between West Palm Beach and southern Georgia. There, water levels could potentially reach six feet. Forecasters are also expecting certain cities along FL’s coast to see as much as six inches of rainfall. Again, Many Floridians will experience severe flash flooding. Affected areas range from West Palm Beach to Cape Canaveral.

Severe weather from Hurricane Nicole is expected to stretch northward up the eastern seaboard, drenching North and South Carolina, the Mid-Atlantic, and even regions across New England. As much as 3 to 4 inches of rain is expected to fall in cities farther north, from Raleigh, NC to New York City and Boston.