Nicole makes landfall in Florida as a rare November hurricane bringing heavy rain and high winds

Nicole makes landfall in Florida as a rare November hurricane bringing heavy rain and high winds

Hurricane Nicole made landfall early Thursday along Florida’s east coast just south of Vero Beach, the National Hurricane Center said, before quickly losing momentum and being downgraded to a tropical storm as it was moving over central Florida. But it was still battering much of the storm-weary state with high winds, dangerous storm surge and heavy rain, the center said.

What was a rare November hurricane had already led authorities to close airports and theme parks and order evacuations, including former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.

Authorities have warned that Nicole’s storm surge could further erode many beaches hit by Hurricane Ian in September.

And the number of power outages continued to rise: according to, some 363,000 homes and businesses in Florida had no power.

Nicole had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph Thursday morning with its center about 30 miles northeast of Tampa and about 60 miles west-southwest of Orlando, according to the hurricane center. It was moving west-northwest at 16 mph.

Vehicles cross a flooded street after Hurricane Nicole landed on November 10, 2022 in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Vehicles cross a flooded street after Hurricane Nicole landed on November 10, 2022 in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Tropical storm-force winds from the sprawling storm extended up to 345 miles from the center in some directions.

Nicole was expected to move west toward the Gulf of Mexico Thursday, move north and then cross the Florida Panhandle and parts of Georgia Thursday night, the hurricane center said. The storm was expected to cross the southeastern United States on Friday.

Mike’s weather page tweeted videos of many dramatic scenes, including these:

Nicole became a hurricane Wednesday night when it slammed into Grand Bahama Island after making landfall hours earlier on Great Abaco Island as a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. It is the first storm to hit the Bahamas since Hurricane Doriana category 5 storm that devastated the archipelago in 2019.

For storm-weary Floridians, this is only the third November hurricane to hit their shores since record-keeping began in 1853. The previous ones were Hurricane Yankee in 1935 and Hurricane Kate in 1985.

Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s club and home, was in one of the evacuation zones, about a quarter-mile inland from the ocean. The main buildings sit on a small rise of about 15 feet above sea level, and the property has survived many stronger hurricanes since it was built nearly a century ago. The station’s security office hung up on Wednesday when an Associated Press reporter asked if the club was being evacuated. There were no signs of evacuation Wednesday afternoon.

There is no penalty for ignoring an evacuation order, but rescue teams will not respond if doing so puts their members at risk.

Daytona Beach Shores officials have deemed at least half a dozen multi-story coastal residential buildings already damaged by Hurricane Ian and now threatened by Nicole unsafe. In some places, authorities went door to door telling people to seize their belongings and leave.

Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort closed Wednesday but announced plans to reopen Thursday, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Palm Beach International Airport closed Wednesday morning and Daytona Beach International Airport announced it would suspend operations. Orlando International Airport, the seventh busiest in the United States, also closed. Further south, officials said Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport had experienced flight delays and cancellations, but both planned to remain open.

At a press conference in Tallahassee, Gov. Ron DeSantis said winds were the biggest concern and major power outages could occur, but 16,000 linemen were on standby to restore power as well as 600 guards and seven search and rescue teams.

Nicole “will affect huge parts of the state of Florida all day,” DeSantis said.

Nearly two dozen school districts were closing schools for the storm and 15 shelters were open along Florida’s east coast, the governor said.

Forty-five of Florida’s 67 counties were under emergency declarations.

Warnings and watches have been issued for many parts of Florida, including the southwest Gulf Coast which was devastated by Hurricane Ian, which hit as a Category 4 storm on September 28. The storm destroyed homes and damaged crops, including orange groves, across the state – damage many are still experiencing.

Daniel Brown, senior hurricane specialist at the Miami-based hurricane center, said the storm will affect much of Florida.

“Because the system is so large, almost the entire east coast of Florida, with the exception of the far southeast and the Keys, is going to receive tropical storm-force winds,” he said.

Early Wednesday, President Biden declared an emergency in Florida and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts as the storm approached. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is still responding to people who need help in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Ian caused a storm surge of up to 13ft in late September causing widespread destruction.

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