Hurricane Nicole makes landfall in Florida

(CNN Weather)

After wreaking havoc in northwestern Bahamas Wednesday, Hurricane Nicole is poised to make landfall along the east coast of Florida in the next couple of hours, according to an update from the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is about 30 miles east-southeast of Fort Pierce Beach, Florida, moving west-northwest at 14 mph, the center said early Thursday. Nicole has maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.

Little change in strength is expected until Nicole makes landfall, according to the Hurricane Center.

“Nicole’s center is then expected to move across central and northern Florida into southern Georgia Thursday and Thursday night, and into the Carolinas Friday,” the hurricane center said.

The storm is expected to weaken as it moves across Florida into the southeastern US, and is “likely to become a post-tropical cyclone by Friday afternoon,” the center said.

NHC notes that Nicole will bring “strong winds, dangerous storm surge and heavy rains and that large intense bands extend quite far from the center.”

The Hurricane Center has warned that threats from the large storm stretch beyond its forecast cone.

“Do not focus on the exact track of Nicole since it is a large storm with hazards extending well to the north of the center, outside the forecast cone,” the Hurricane Center warned.
“These hazards will affect much of the Florida peninsula and portions of the southeast US.”

Strong winds are already being reported in the state, with Port Canaveral recording a wind gust of 67 mph, a 66 mph gust at Sebastian Inlet and Melbourne recording a 58 mph gust late Wednesday night.

Wind and storm surge from the storm has already led officials to deem buildings unsafe or at the risk of collapse. Universities and amusement parks have also closed operations in preparation for Nicole’s landfall. Airlines canceled thousands of flights to prepare as well.

Tornadoes are also possible as Nicole approaches.

Because an area of convection within the outer bands of Nicole’s northwest side is increasing, there’s an increased threat for isolated, brief tornadoes forming, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

To prepare for Nicole, Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded his state of emergency — originally for 34 counties — to include 11 additional counties.