Tropical Storm Nicole nears hurricane status as it hurtles toward eastern Florida

Tropical Storm Nicole nears hurricane status as it hurtles toward eastern Florida

Florida is getting ready for a hurricane as Tropical Hurricane Nicole nears the state’s eastern coast. After drenching the Bahamas, the storm is expected to intensify into a Category 2 Hurricane and hit Florida later today. Hurricane warnings have been issued for approximately 4 million people. The storm is expected to make landfall north-west of West Palm Beach, Florida.

“Nicole will weaken while moving through Florida and the southeastern United States on Thursday through Friday,” said the National Hurricane Center this morning .

Parts on the east coast of Florida were already facing tropical storm conditions this morning. The state also faces very high tides elevated this week’s full Moon ,, which could lead to coastal flooding. Forecasters predict up to eight inches of rain, a storm surge that could rise to five feet, and high winds into Thursday.

[Related: Hurricane Ian surges back and heads for the Carolinas. ]

As of 7 a.m. EST Wednesday, the storm had sustained winds of 70 MPH, only four MPH away from becoming a Category 1 hurricane, according to the NHC.

Nicole will be impacting some of the Florida counties that are still recovering from September’s Hurricane Ian. The historic Category 4 storm killed over 100 people and destroyed several communities on the state’s west coast.

Atlantic hurricane season does not officially end until November 30, but late-season hurricanes are incredibly rare in the United States. If Nicole hits as a hurricane, it will be the first one to make landfall in the United States in November in nearly 40 years, when Hurricane Kate hit the Florida panhandle as a Category 2 storm in 1985.

“November is not known for its tropical activity,” said Dan Kottlowski, AccuWeather’s chief hurricane expert. “By November the westerlies have well established across the southern U.S.A and into the northern Gulf of Mexico,” he stated, referring to the prevailing winds that blow in the middle latitudes from the west to the east. The only place that offers tropical development is the southern Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. Strong vertical wind shear can make it difficult for tropical formation .”

[Related: The future of hurricanes is full of floods–a lot of them. ]

November marks historically when ocean water starts to cool and wind shears reduce the likelihood of tropical systems forming. But warming ocean temperatures due to climate change is changing how hurricanes work, even this late in the season.

“Since 1995, sea surface temperatures have averaged above normal across the Atlantic Basin through November, and the central Atlantic has been no exception,” Kottlowski said. “We now have better satellite data over Atlantic, making it easier to catch short-lived tropical storms in the central and eastern Atlantic. Rina of 2017 was a good example of this.”

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