Nicole nears hurricane strength as it aims for Florida – Trending News

Tropical Storm Nicole neared hurricane strength early Wednesday as it aimed for Florida’s Atlantic coast and the Southeast U.S.

Previously a subtropical storm, Nicole has worked its way up to a tropical storm and was all but assured to become a hurricane overnight, the National Hurricane Center said.

If Nicole becomes a hurricane, it would be the third in the Atlantic this month, tying the 2001 season for the most Atlantic hurricanes in November, according to Colorado State University atmospheric science researcher Phil Klotzbach.

Early Wednesday, the tropical storm was about 290 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph — just 4 mph shy of Category 1 hurricane status.

It was moving west-southwest at 11 mph, according to the center.

Hurricane conditions were expected in the northwestern Bahamas late Tuesday into Wednesday morning, and by Wednesday evening the same was forecast for the central and southern Atlantic coastline of Florida, federal forecasters said.

Its strength was such that an overnight storm surge watch was issued for the other side of Florida, along the panhandle east of Panama City, from the Ochlockonee River to Indian Pass, they said.

The hurricane center warned the entire state to be prepared for heavy weather.

“Do not focus on the exact track of Nicole since it is expected to be a large storm with hazards extending well to the north of the center, outside of the forecast cone,” the National Hurricane Center said in a “key messages” bulletin.

“These hazards are likely to effect much of the Florida peninsula and portions of the Southeast United States,” it said.

Hurricane warnings were in effect overnight for a wide stretch of the state’s eastern shore — from Boca Raton, north of Miami, to the Flagler County line, north of Daytona Beach — federal forecasters said.

The warnings urge residents to prepare and evacuate if necessary, as life-threatening conditions, including hurricane-strength winds of 74 mph or greater, storm surges and coastal flooding, were en route.

“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” the National Hurricane Center said in a late-night public advisory.

A storm surge warning, which forecasts dangerously high ocean, wetland and river waters, was in effect from North Palm Beach, Florida, to Altamaha Sound, Georgia, the hurricane center said.

Federal forecasters said central and northern Florida could expect 3 to 5 inches of rain, with 8 inches possible.

Storm surf is likely to affect a long stretch of U.S. coastline, from the east coast of Florida to the Southeastern U.S., the hurricane center said.

“These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” it said.

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