Subtropical Storm Nicole formed Monday morning in the Atlantic Ocean with a projected track that could bring it to the east coast of Florida by Wednesday evening near hurricane strength, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of 5 a.m., the system was located about 555 miles east of the northwest Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph moving north-northwest at 14 mph. It is expected to slow its forward speed later Monday and begin a west-to-west-southwest thrust from Tuesday into Thursday.
“On the forecast track, the center of Nicole will approach the northwest Bahamas on Tuesday, move near or over these islands on Wednesday, and approach the east coast of Florida by Wednesday evening.” , said Robbie Berg, senior hurricane specialist at the NHC.
Although it is now classed as a subtropical with a massive wind field with 40 mph winds out to 275 miles, forecasts predict it will shift to a tropical system with a more defined eye with higher wind speeds around the eye in the center of its circulation by two to three days, Berg said.
“It’s not out of the question that Nicole could reach hurricane strength, especially given the warm waters near the Bahamas,” Berg said. “It should be emphasized, however, that regardless of Nicole’s ultimate intensity, the large size of the storm will likely result in significant wind, storm surge and precipitation impacts over much of the northwestern United States. Bahamas, Florida and the southeast coast of the United States for much of the coming week.
The five-day forecast cone has the consensus track that brings it closer to the Florida coast at 2 a.m. Thursday with sustained winds of 70 mph and gusts up to 85 mph. Its path could have it make landfall somewhere between West Palm Beach and Brevard County, then travel northwest across the state with the center somewhere between Orlando and Lakeland by mid-Thursday, then move on Friday and be taken back to the northeast in the south US
Because it hasn’t yet become a tropical system, its path and intensity are less predictable, according to the NHC, and the five-day cone extends from south of Miami to it without even making landfall, but offshore. of the Daytona Beach coast before it was moved back to the northeast.
Either way, its reach could bring the risk of dangerous storm surge, damaging winds and heavy rain.
A tropical storm watch is now in effect for the northwest Bahamas, and additional watches for the Bahamas and Florida may be issued later today, the NHC said.
For now, the Bahamas could see up to 3 to 5 feet above normal storm surge while also experiencing 2 to 4 inches of rain, with some areas seeing up to 6 inches through Thursday.
Florida’s massive damage from Hurricane Ian in September left much of the central state inundated by Ian’s heavy rains. According to Melbourne’s National Weather Service, more rain dumped by this system could stress water tables that have continued to drop since the hurricane and could lead to more flooding.
“Hazardous marine conditions will continue to worsen as winds work to create seas throughout the day,” the NWS said in its Monday morning forecast discussion. “These building winds and seas will make beach conditions dangerous, creating choppy surf, life-threatening rip currents and growing concern for beach erosion later today and tonight.”
Peak winds in east central Florida are expected to begin Wednesday evening and continue through Thursday.
“Squalls before and during the passage of the storm could produce wind gusts in excess of 50-60 mph in coastal communities, with up to around 35-50 mph well inland,” according to the forecast. “In addition, total storm precipitation accumulations are expected to reach 4 to 6 inches along the coast and even reach the St Johns River in Brevard County, 3 to 4 inches for much of the rest of the region and 2 at 3 inches for the north. Lake County and areas west of the Florida Turnpike, with locally higher amounts possible.
The NHC will issue its next interim advisory at 8 a.m.
Nicole becomes the 14th named system of the 2022 hurricane season, which continues the streak of above-average storm production in recent years. 2020 saw a record 30 named storms while 2021 produced 21 named systems.
The Atlantic hurricane season ends on November 30.
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