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In Nicole's wake, Florida sees eroded beaches, collapsed buildings and at least 2 dead

Alex Harris, Miami Herald on

Published in Weather News

Volusia, like others along the coast, including Palm Beach, called for mandatory evacuations ahead of the story. But the devastating erosion prompted officials to go door to door evacuating remaining residents from dozens of homes, condominiums and at least one hotel over concerns they weren’t structurally sound.

By midafternoon, 150,000 customers were already without power across Florida — many of them on Florida’s Space Coast, which had endured more than a day of battering winds and waves. Brevard County, home to the Kennedy Space Center and on the storm’s stronger “dirty side,” had most of the outages, with nearly 77,000 customers in the dark, according to Florida Power & Light’s Power Tracker.

The Kennedy Space Center recorded a 100-mph gust after Nicole’s landfall, causing concerns that the $4 billion Artemis rocket sitting on its pad might be damaged. NASA said Wednesday evening that the spacecraft could withstand winds up to 85 mph high, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Nicole’s winds also uncovered the remains of six bodies on Hutchinson Island, where it initially made landfall, from what Martin County Sheriff’s deputies suspect was a Native American burial ground.

Parts of state road A1A in Flagler County had “significant damage,” the county’s emergency management department reported. And Thursday morning’s high tide in St. Augustine was already a foot higher than Ian, swamped parts of the city.

Nicole’s tides set a new record in Jacksonville — at 3.58 feet above high tide — as the highest tides since 1928, beating out the 3.21 foot record Hurricane Matthew set in 2016, tweeted Jeff Masters, a former NOAA hurricane hunter.

 

So far, damage reports are minimal for South Florida. The Deerfield Beach fishing pier lost some chunks of its railing to Nicole’s winds, and a middle portion of Anglin’s Fishing Pier in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea was swept out to sea.

Some beachfront businesses, including along Hollywood Beach’s Boardwalk, saw minor flooding, but many were already back open for businesses Thursday morning.

Early Thursday, the National Weather Service’s Miami office said South Florida saw up to 6 inches of Nicole’s rains in Fort Lauderdale, with totals around 3 inches in Miami and West Palm Beach.

Nicole’s rain and storm surge combined with the higher than usual King Tide this week to set a record at the Virginia Key tide gauge, the fourth highest water level since 1994, tweeted Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami Rosenstiel school.

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