Nicole Upgraded To Hurricane Upon Landfall in the Bahamas

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

Tropical Storm Nicole has officially been upgraded to a hurricane.

Meteorologists have been keeping a close watch on Nicole as it brewed over the Atlantic Ocean this week. And over the past few days, they’ve been forecasting that the rare November storm would strengthen after it made landfall in the Bahamas.

Nicole was teetering on hurricane strength throughout Tuesday night. And when it hit Grand Bahama Island on Wed. evening, the sustained winds hit an estimated 75 mph—a Category 1 hurricane registers between 74 and 95 mph.

Nicole made its first landfall on Great Abaco Island around 1 p.m. with 70 mph winds. Despite being a tropical storm at the time, it caused hundreds of people to evacuate into shelters. It also caused flooding and power outages.

At 7:30 pm, the hurricane was located about 20 miles east of Freeport, Bahamas, and about 100 miles from West Palm Beach, Florida. Floridians are currently feeling the early impacts of the storm with 15 to 30 mph wind gusts. As the night continues, the weather will worsen, and the hurricane should make landfall in the U.S. overnight.

The storm’s center will move across central and northern Florida and then into Georgia on Thursday. As it weakens on Friday, it will move across the Carolinas.

Florida Officials Order Evacuations Ahead of Hurricane Nicole

Officials have ordered Flagler, Palm Beach, Martin, and Volusia county residents living in low-lying areas and mobile homes to evacuate ahead of the storm. There are 15 shelters open for those who leave their homes.

More than two dozen school districts have also closed down. And 45 of Florida’s 67 counties are under a state of emergency. With so many areas expected to feel the effects of Nicole, many businesses and airports have closed down, including Palm Beach International Airport, Daytona Beach International Airport, and Orlando International Airport. Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort also closed early on Wed. and they’re expected to remain closed on Thursday.

Along with heavy winds, people living in the Sunshine State are also facing threats of flash floods, rip currents, and tornadoes.

Luckily, long-lasting floods are not anticipated with Nicole because the ground has had time to dry since Hurricane Ian hit in late September. River levels are also back to normal.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the state will likely suffer from widespread power outages. In preparation, he has 16,000 linemen on standby. Six hundred guardsmen and seven search and rescue teams are also ready to help residents in the wake of the expected devastation.