Nicole now ranks just under record tides set by Irma, Wilma and Irene.
With its early Thursday landfall, then-Hurricane Nicole set new records. It was only the second November hurricane to strike Florida’s peninsula in recorded history, after Hurricane Kate hit the panhandle as a Category 2 on Nov. 4, 1985.
Andy Hazleton, a researcher at the University of Miami and NOAA’s hurricane research department, tweeted that it was the first hurricane to officially make landfall on Florida’s east coast since Katrina hit in 2005.
“Not something you really expect in mid-November!” he tweeted.
The storm’s path — and timing after Hurricane Ian — drew comparisons to 2004’s Hurricane Charley and Jeanne, which also hit 43 days apart and took similar tracks through the state.
“This is crazy. Florida hurricane déjà vu,” tweeted Matt Devitt, chief meteorologist of Southwest Florida’s WINK news.
In a 3 a.m. Eastern time advisory, the National Hurricane Center put Nicole’s official landfall on North Hutchinson Island. It immediately weakened to a tropical storm, and by 1 p.m. its maximum sustained winds had dropped to 45 mph as it swept inland with its center about 45 miles northeast of Tampa.
Nicole was expected to spend much of the day crossing the state on a path that will take it up the Big Bend toward Tallahassee — possibly emerging into the Gulf of Mexico on the way.
Hurricane Nicole made its first landfall in the northeastern Bahamas on Wednesday afternoon, in nearly the same spot Hurricane Dorian ravaged in 2019, and another landfall Wednesday night as it swept across Grand Bahama Island. There were no early reports of major damage but reports of “extensive flooding” on the island of Abaco.
Bahamian officials gave the “all-clear” just after 5 a.m.
(Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau staff writer Lawrence Mower contributed to this report.)©2022 Miami Herald. Visit at miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.