Nicole Set for Landfall Along Florida's East Coast as Category 1 Hurricane

Forecast tracks showed Nicole making landfall along the east coast of Florida Thursday

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Hurricane Nicole is set to make landfall along Florida's east coast Thursday as it continued to bring strong winds, storm surge and heavy rain, forecasters said.

Nicole is a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was moving west-northwest at 14 mph about 30 miles east-southeast of Fort Pierce, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

A hurricane warning was in effect from Boca Raton to the Flagler/Volusia County line, while a hurricane watch was issued for Lake Okeechobee. The watch was canceled for Boca Raton to Hallandale Beach.

A tropical storm watch that had been in effect for Miami-Dade was canceled. Tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches remained in effect for Broward County.

Forecast tracks showed Nicole making landfall along the east coast of Florida Thursday.

Nicole's center is then expected to move across central and northern Florida into southern Georgia and into the Carolinas. It's expected to weaken as it moves across Florida and is likely to become a post-tropical cyclone by Friday afternoon.

Miami-Dade and Broward were out of the storm's "cone of concern" but were experiencing flooding from heavy rain and wind gusts.

Nicole is the eighth hurricane of the 2022 season and a rare November hurricane for storm-weary Florida, where only two hurricanes have made landfall since recordkeeping began in 1853 — the 1935 Yankee Hurricane and Hurricane Kate in 1985.

At a news conference in Tallahassee, Gov. Ron DeSantis said winds were the biggest concern and that significant power outages could occur, but that 16,000 linemen were on standby to restore power, as well as 600 guardsmen and seven search and rescue teams.

"It will affect huge parts of the state of Florida all day,” DeSantis said of the storm’s expected landing.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis provided an update on the state's plan as Tropical Storm Nicole is expected to impact Florida's east coast as a Category 1 hurricane.

A storm surge was expected that could further erode many beaches that were hit by Hurricane Ian in September.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet that storm surge from Tropical Storm Nicole had already breached the sea wall along Indian River Drive, which runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. The Martin County Sheriff's office also said seawater had breached part of a road on Hutchinson Island.

Residents in several Florida counties — Flagler, Palm Beach, Martin and Volusia — were ordered to evacuate such barrier islands, low-lying areas and mobile homes. Volusia, home to Daytona Beach, imposed a curfew and warned that intercoastal bridges used by evacuees would close when winds reach 39 mph.

In Palm Beach County, some 350 people checked into seven evacuation centers including Hidir Dontar, a software engineer carrying a backpack and plastic bag with his belongings. He said he didn’t want to stay in his apartment because the landlord wasn’t putting shutters over the windows, something that didn’t feel safe having lived through “one bad one,” 2004’s Hurricane Frances.

“I didn’t want to be in the middle of the storm, have something go wrong and wonder, ‘What do I do now?’” Dontar said.

Heavy rain and crashing waves are only getting worse in West Palm Beach as Tropical Storm Nicole makes its way to Florida's east coast. NBC 6's Adrian Criscaut reports.

Meanwhile, officials in Daytona Beach Shores deemed unsafe at least a half dozen, multi-story, coastal residential buildings already damaged by Hurricane Ian and now threatened by Nicole. At some locations, authorities went door-to-door telling people to grab their possessions and leave.

Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort announced they were closing early on Wednesday and likely would not reopen as scheduled on Thursday.

Palm Beach International Airport closed Wednesday morning, and Daytona Beach International Airport said it would cease operations. Orlando International Airport, the seventh busiest in the U.S., also closed. Further south, officials said Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport were experiencing some flight delays and cancellations but both planned to remain open.

Almost two dozen school districts were closing schools for the storm and 15 shelters had opened along Florida’s east coast, the governor said.

Forty-five of Florida’s 67 counties were under a state of emergency declaration.

South Florida is feeling the effects of Hurricane Nicole. NBC 6's Willard Shepard and Kim Wynne have the latest with team coverage of the storm.

Florida Division of Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie said Floridians should expect possible tornadoes, rip currents and flash flooding.

Early Wednesday, President Joe Biden declared an emergency in Florida and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts to the approaching storm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is still responding to those in need from Hurricane Ian.

At the beach just north of Mar-a-Lago as winds gusts neared 40 mph Wednesday afternoon, numerous people were taking videos of the churning ocean. The normally calm waters had rapid, strong surf with 5-foot breakers.

Denny DeHaven, who works for a Social Security advocacy group, said he lives inland so he’s not too concerned.

“It’s only going to be a Category 1 - the thing I mostly worry about is a power outage,” he said. “The people I worry about are those who live around here after seeing what happened in Fort Myers.” Hurricane Ian brought storm surge of up to 13 feet in late September, causing widespread destruction.

In a video posted on Twitter, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the surge had already arrived and dozens of seaside buildings declared structurally unsafe. A mandatory evacuation was issued for the beach side, and a curfew was scheduled for 7 p.m.

“We’re looking for a really rough night here,” Chitwood said. “This is not the time to have hurricane fatigue. This is the last window of opportunity to secure your families and secure your properties, and possibly save some lives here.”

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