FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency in 34 Florida counties — including Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach — on Monday due to the potential of an approaching Hurricane Nicole.
Nicole, a subtropical storm as of Monday, is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane by midweek as it approaches the Bahamas then moves toward South Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A swath of Florida’s east coast — from Hallandale Beach north to the Volusia/Brevard county line — was under a hurricane watch by Monday morning.
DeSantis said that the state of emergency was put in place out of an abundance of caution.
“While this storm does not, at this time, appear that it will become much stronger, I urge all Floridians to be prepared and to listen to announcements from local emergency management officials,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to monitor the trajectory and strength of this storm as it moves towards Florida.”
Forecasters say Nicole is “a large storm” that is expected to move over or near the Bahamas Tuesday into Wednesday, and approach Florida’s east coast Wednesday night. The latest estimates said its maximum sustained winds this week could reach 75 mph, just 1 mph over the minimum threshold for a Category 1 hurricane.
“It’s not out of the question for Nicole to reach hurricane strength, especially given how warm the waters are in the vicinity of the Bahamas,” experts said early Monday.
The National Weather Service Miami said in a briefing Monday that “overall the threat is increasing for South Florida” with potentially life-threatening storm surges, damaging winds, heavy rainfall and a few tornadoes on the horizon.
The Weather Channel expects Nicole’s center to make landfall on Florida’s east coast Wednesday night or early Thursday, though the “worst of Nicole’s impacts on the southeast coast could arrive by late Tuesday or Wednesday and might last in some areas well through the second half of the week.”
A tropical storm watch is in effect south of Hallandale Beach to north of Ocean Reef and from the Volusia/Brevard county line north to Georgia’s Altamaha Sound.