Tropical Storm Nicole brought wind and rain to the Northwestern Bahamas on Wednesday afternoon. At 4:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday the center of Tropical Storm Nicole was located at latitude 26.5°N and longitude 77.9°W which put it about 135 miles (220 km) east of West Palm Beach, Florida. Nicole was moving toward the west at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 70 m.p.h. (110 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 85 m.p.h. (135 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 985 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.
The center of Tropical Storm Nicole passed over Great Abaco Island in the Northwestern Bahamas on Wednesday. The center of Nicole’s circulation was just to the southeast of Grand Bahama Island on Wednesday afternoon. The inner end of a rainband wrapped completely around the center of circulation. An eye with a diameter of 30 miles (50 km) formed at the center of Tropical Storm Nicole. Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Nicole. Storms near the center generated upper level divergence that pumped mass away from the tropical storm. 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 Tropical Storm 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 afternoon. 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.
Tropical Storm Nicole will 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 into a region where the upper level winds are weaker and there will be little vertical wind shear. Tropical Storm Nicole will extract more energy from the warmer water and it is likely to intensify to a hurricane during the next few hours.
Tropical Storm 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 Tropical Storm Nicole will make landfall on the east coast of Florida near or just to the north of West Palm Beach on Wednesday night. Nicole is likely to be a hurricane when it reaches Florida. 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.
Tropical Storm Nicole will move northwest across Central Florida on Thursday. 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. Tropical Storm Nicole will drop locally heavy rain over central and northern Florida, and southern Georgia. Heavy rain could cause fresh water floods in some locations.