FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — South Florida may not come through the end of the 2022 hurricane season without a direct hit as a rare November storm heads for the state’s east coast.
The threat from potential Hurricane Nicole increased Monday, with the possibility of strong winds, rising waters and flooding rains reaching parts of South Florida. And forecasters said Monday night that “there is more than the usual amount of uncertainty in the intensity forecast.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency in 34 Florida counties, including Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, on Monday as Nicole, a subtropical storm, is forecast to strengthen and potentially make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
Wherever the storm comes ashore, most of the Florida peninsula will experience heavy rains, near-hurricane force winds and possible storm surge this week.
Hurricane watches, tropical storm warnings and storm surge alerts went up along Florida’s east coast Monday, and officials are urging Floridians to prepare now and stay vigilant.
“We are technically still in hurricane season until the end of this month,” said Barry Baxter, a meteorologist for National Weather Service Miami. “So don’t let your guard down just because it’s in November. It’s rare we get them this time of year, but we could still get them.”
‘A large storm’
Forecasters say Nicole is “a large storm” that could reach maximum sustained winds this week of 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 Monday.
As of 10 p.m. Monday, Nicole had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving northwest at 8 mph about 415 miles east-northeast of the northwestern Bahamas. It is forecast to approach the northwestern Bahamas on Tuesday before approaching Florida’s east coast Wednesday night.