Former Tropical Storm Nicole strengthened to a hurricane east of Florida on Wednesday evening. At 7:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday the center of Hurricane Nicole was located at latitude 26.6°N and longitude 78.5°W which put it about 100 miles (160 km) east of West Palm Beach, Florida. Nicole was moving toward the west at 12 m.p.h. (19 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 980 mb.
A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Boca Raton to the Flagler/ Volusia County Line, Florida. The Hurricane Warning included West Palm Beach, Ft. Pierce, Melbourne and Daytona Beach. A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the Abacos, Berry Islands, and Grand Bahama Island. A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Boca Raton to Hallandale Beach, Florida. A Hurricane Watch was in effect for Lake Okeechobee. A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for Bimini. A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Hallandale Beach to Boca Raton, Florida. A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for Lake Okeechobee. A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Flagler/Volusia County Line, Florida to the South Santee River, South Carolina. The Tropical Storm Warning includes Jacksonville, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina. A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Bonita Beach to Indian Pass, Florida. The Tropical Storm Warning included Tampa and St. Petersburg.
Former Tropical Storm Nicole intensified to a hurricane when it move over the warm water in the Gulf Stream Current on Wednesday evening. The eye of Hurricane Nicole was over Grand Bahama Island. The eye had a diameter of 30 miles (50 km). The eye was surrounded by a ring of thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in the northern part of that ring. Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Hurricane Nicole. Storms near the center generated upper level divergence that pumped mass away from the hurricane. The removal of mass caused the surface pressure to decrease at the center of circulation.
The strongest winds were occurring in the northern side of Hurricane Nicole, but the overall circulation was very large. Winds to tropical storm force extended out 480 miles (775 km) from the center of Nicole’s circulation. Stations along the east coast of Florida reported sustained wind speeds of tropical storm force on Wednesday evening. Electricity outages were reported in several areas. Northeasterly winds were pushing water toward the coast and water level rises were reported from South Carolina to Florida. Large waves were causing significant beach erosion along the east coast of Florida.
Hurricane Nicole will continue to move through an environment that is favorable for intensification during the next few hours. Nicole will move over warm water in the Gulf Stream Current where the Sea Surface Temperatures are near 28˚C. It will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear. Hurricane Nicole will extract more energy from the warmer water and it is likely to strengthen a little more during the next few hours.
Hurricane Nicole will move around the southwestern part of a surface high pressure system currently over the northeastern U.S. The high pressure system will steer Nicole toward the west-northwest during the next 12 hours. On its anticipated track Hurricane Nicole will make landfall on the east coast of Florida near or just to the north of West Palm Beach on Wednesday night. Nicole will be a hurricane when it reaches Florida. Hurricane Nicole will continue to bring strong, gusty winds and locally heavy rain to the east coast of Florida. The winds in the northern side of Nicole will continue to blow water toward the coast of Florida and the Southeast U.S. Those winds could cause a storm surge of up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in some locations. Large waves will keep breaking on the coast and they will cause significant beach erosion.
Hurricane Nicole will move northwest across Central Florida on Thursday. Nicole will weaken back to a tropical storm when it moves across Florida. Nicole could bring tropical storm force winds to the area around Orlando. The center of Nicole will be over northern Florida on Thursday evening. Widespread electricity outages could occur in central and northern Florida. Nicole will drop locally heavy rain over central and northern Florida, and southern Georgia. Heavy rain could cause fresh water floods in some locations.