Nicole Set to Hit Florida’s Eastern Coast as Cat 1 Hurricane

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Florida is bracing for another storm, less than two months after Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms in the state’s history, hit its Gulf Coast. 

Tropical Storm Nicole, now making its way through the Bahamas with 70 mph winds, is set to make landfall early Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane along the Palm Beach and Martin County border. 

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If Tropical Storm Nicole does turn into a hurricane, it will become one of the strongest storms to make landfall in the U.S. in November, which is part of the Atlantic hurricane season but rarely sees intense activity.

The barrier islands in Palm Beach County are under mandatory evacuation orders. A hurricane warning is in effect from Boca Raton up to the Flagler and Volusia county lines, north of Orlando, while a tropical storm warning is in effect from Boca Raton to Hallandale Beach, just north of Miami-Dade County, according to the US National Hurricane Center. 

As of Wednesday morning, storm surges have already breached parts of the barrier island in Martin County, just north of Jupiter Island. Nicole will bring strong wind and “dangerous” storm surges, expected above a foot along Florida’s Eastern coast and above three feet across the state, between Tampa and Tallahassee, per the National Hurricane Center

With storm-force winds that could stretch well over 400 miles from the center, the sprawling system will likely engulf much of the state until Friday. It’s set to hit the Tampa area Thursday afternoon — near some of the worst affected areas from Hurricane Ian — before moving into southern Georgia Thursday night and the Carolinas by Friday.

Hurricane Nicole is not expected to be as damaging as Hurricane Ian, which slammed into the Fort Myers area in late September as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm killed at least 101 people and could cost roughly $67 billion in insured losses, according to RMS

Julia Echikson can be reached at jechikson@commercialobserver.com