Nicole Lashes Florida With Rain, Thousands Without Power

By Will Wade and Brian K. Sullivan | November 10, 2022

Nicole, now a tropical storm, is lashing central Florida with heavy rain and powerful wind, leaving a trail of blackouts and floods.

The storm came ashore early Thursday as a rare November hurricane and since then its winds have dropped to 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour as it spins across Florida about 30 miles northeast of Tampa, the US National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 10 a.m. local time.

“Continued weakening is expected this morning while the center remains over land,” said Jack Beven, a senior hurricane specialist at the center. “While the center is expected to briefly emerge over the Gulf of Mexico this afternoon, it is not expected to be over water long enough for significant re-intensification.”

After pounding the Bahamas, Nicole made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near Vero Beach, flooding the shoreline with a powerful surge of water and causing erosion. Vero Beach is about 60 miles north of former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago. Trump has said he’ll make a “very big” announcement at the estate in Palm Beach on Tuesday.

About 335,600 homes and businesses were without power by 9:55 a.m., according to About 1,235 flights have been cancelled, primarily out of Orlando, with Jacksonville and Palm Beach affected, FlightAware said.

Nicole’s winds were strong enough in three citrus countries to knock some fruit off trees, but the overall impact is probably minimal, said Drew Lerner, president of World Weather Inc. Brevard county, a small citrus producer, had the strongest gusts, between 50 to 70 miles an hour, and some impact is possible in eastern Indian River and Osceola counties, which saw 40-45 miles an hour wind. Together they account for about 4% of Florida’s citrus acreage.

“No significant impact occurred to sugarcane in the state and the outlook is not very threatening for cotton in Georgia or the Carolinas,” he added.

As the storm continues north, it’s forecast to dump up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain in some areas, raising the risk of flash floods and inundating rivers still high from Hurricane Ian. The rains will then spread north as Nicole moves up the eastern US drenching Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky before turning on the Mid-Atlantic, New York and New England.

Florida Preparations

Florida braced for the storm. After declaring states of emergency in 34 counties Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis has expanded that to cover all of Florida’s 67 counties. There are 61 school districts that have canceled classes Thursday, and the state’s schools will be closed Friday for the Veteran’s Day holiday, he said during a briefing Thursday.

“The wind has been the main concern with Nicole, but we’ve also seen heavy rains,” he said. DeSantis also warned of storm surge of three to five feet in some areas and coastal erosion that’s putting some beachfront homes at risk. “We’re ready, and we have resources to respond to whatever post-storm needs may arise,” he added.

Damages from the storm may approach $3 billion, according to an estimate from Kinetic Analysis Corp.

Nicole is an unusually sprawling storm, at one point stretching 700 miles across. DeSantis warned residents to prepare for power outages. About 16,000 utility workers were standing by to repair lines that go down.

The storm will drench parts of the state that are still contending with flooding from Hurricane Ian, which pummeled Florida six weeks ago. Ian knocked out electricity to 2.6 million customers, devastated the orange crop and caused an estimated $71 billion in damage.

“It’s still pretty waterlogged from Ian,” said Dan DePodwin, director of forecast operations at AccuWeather.

Nicole is the 14th named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, matching the long-term average but well short of the 19 to 21 tropical systems that researchers had been expecting this year. It was the first hurricane to make landfall on the mainland US in 37 years, Dakota Smith, an atmospheric scientist Tweeted.

–With assistance from Mary Schlangenstein, Brian Wingfield and Marvin G. Perez.

Top photo: Surf pounds a peir at Lauderdale-by-the Sea on Wednesday, Nov. 9. Bloomberg.

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