TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tropical Storm Nicole is hitting Florida with high winds and storm surge as it moves across the state Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.
The system quickly weakened into a tropical storm after making landfall along the east coast of Florida as a Category 1 hurricane. The storm was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States so late in the season in 40 years. This is the third time a hurricane has hit Florida in November.
But about an hour after the hurricane made landfall on North Hutchinson Island Thursday morning, it weakened into a tropical storm, and some watches and warnings were downgraded or discontinued. The Tampa Bay area currently remains under a tropical storm warning.
As of 7 a.m. ET, Nicole was centered about 55 miles east of Tampa and 30 miles southwest of Orlando, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. It was moving west-northwest at 14 mph and had tropical storm-force winds extending outward up to 450 miles from its center.
“Strong winds, dangerous storm surges and surf and heavy rain continue over a wide area,” the NHC said in its latest advisory.
The storm is expected to weaken further as it moves through central and northern Florida and is likely to become a tropical depression over Georgia on Thursday evening before merging with a frontal boundary over central Florida. Atlantic.
“Do not focus on Nicole’s exact track as it is expected to be a large storm with hazards extending well north of center outside the forecast cone” , the center said. “These hazards are likely to affect much of the Florida peninsula and parts of the southeastern United States.”
The NHC warned of dangerous storm surge along parts of Florida’s east-central, northern and Gulf coasts, and said flash and urban flooding was possible. According to the center, a few tornadoes could appear over parts of east-central and northeast Florida.
The Tampa Bay area experiences wind gusts of around 50 mph. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge closed Thursday morning due to windy conditions.
Florida is expected to see 3 to 5 inches of rain with some areas seeing isolated amounts of 8 inches.
The southeastern United States, southern and central Appalachia, western mid-Atlantic and eastern parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio could see 2 to 4 inches of rain and the north of the mid-Atlantic and parts of New York could see 1 to 4 inches.
Highlands, Polk and Citrus counties will likely see 3 to 6 inches of rain. The rest of the Tampa Bay area could see amounts of 1 to 3 inches or slightly higher.
“Floods are not a big concern for Nicole [in Tampa Bay] because the ground has had time to dry out since the flooding seen with Hurricane Ian. River levels have all returned to normal and any rain that falls will first soak into the ground before moving up the rivers. The Tampa Bay area will also see significantly less rain than Hurricane Ian brought,” said Storm Team 8 meteorologist Amanda Holly.
The swell generated by the storm – which can cause life-threatening surf and rip conditions – will likely affect the northwest Bahamas, the east coast of Florida and much of the southeast coast of the United States in the course of the next few days.
Watches and Warnings
A tropical storm warning is in effect for:
- From Jupiter in Florida to South Santee River in South Carolina
- North of Bonita Beach to Indian Pass Florida
- Lake Okeechobee
A storm surge warning was in effect for:
- Jupiter Inlet Florida to Altamaha Sound Georgia
- Mouth of the St. Johns River at Georgetown Florida
- Anclote River Florida to Ochlockonee River Florida
A storm surge watch is in effect for:
- Ochlockonee River at Indian Pass Florida
- Altamaha Sound Georgia to South Santee River South Carolina
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