As per the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Nicole is heading towards the Gulf Coast, passed through Central Florida earlier today as a diminishing tropical storm, and reached Florida’s eastern coastline just below Vero Beach in Indian River County during the night.
Numerous displaced residences in Volusia County have submerged into the sea, as authorities have reported a minimum of two fatalities resulting from electrocution caused by a fallen power line in Orange County following the incident.
A woman who was traveling with him also died and he was electrocuted at a hospital. According to a spokesperson from the OCSO, firefighters and deputies arrived to find the man who had died after making contact with the power line after getting out of his car. The deaths were of a man and a woman who had been traveling by car in the Conway neighborhood, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The fatalities are the first reported from the storm.
As per a tweet, all bridges leading to the coastal area will continue to be inaccessible for regular vehicles, with the exception of necessary staff, until additional updates are provided due to the destruction caused. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office has verified that numerous residences have crumbled into the sea, while additional properties are in danger.
The sheriff’s office had to evacuate residents at the Tower Grande Condominiums on S. Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach due to the failure of its coastal barrier, as stated in the post. It is advised to avoid driving on the roads as there is a curfew in place for the peninsula.
The coastline in Volusia County was severely damaged by the approaching Hurricane Nicole from the east, which further eroded it. Additionally, the coastline had already been devastated by Hurricane Ian in September. On Twitter, she expressed, “This home in Wilbur-By-The-Seas collapsed into the ocean.” Videos shared by WFTV reporter Christy Turner depicted at least two residences submerged in the water further south. “It’s the outcome we were afraid of.”
She was trying to reach the scene on Thursday morning to see how they fared. As the storm approached, she witnessed some beachfront properties behind disappearing as evacuations were underway. Krista Goodrich Dowling, who manages 130 rental homes on Daytona Beach, works as the marketing and sales director for Salty Dog Vacations.
She recounted, “The entire backyard abruptly crumbled into the ocean while we were present. It extended all the way to the house.” According to her, the water also jeopardized the remaining land amidst a line of towering condominium buildings in close proximity.
In Daytona Beach, officials have deemed multiple residential coastal multi-story buildings unsafe. As a result, people are being told to leave and take their belongings with them. The collapsed buildings along the remaining strip of sand are now being rescued by Ocean Safety officials.
Goodrich expressed, “Due to the lack of safety, the individuals who refused to evacuate were being physically compelled to leave. These particular buildings were the towering high-rises.” Goodrich further commented, “There will be a considerable number of individuals temporarily displaced… There will be a temporary displacement of a significant population.” Goodrich added, “Once the seawalls are no longer present, authorities will not readily allow people to return. I am currently apprehensive about the condition of the area’s infrastructure.”
Once again tonight and in the morning, there is an anticipation of ongoing high tide and storm surge. Without any dune safeguard, waves relentlessly pounded against various structures, including fractured asphalt and concrete barriers, revealing persistent destruction since Wednesday. Social media updates exhibited the ongoing devastation.
Flagler County, located on A1A Road in the northern part of the state, is frequently affected by coastal erosion during tropical storms, as the road runs directly along the dunes without any buildings acting as a barrier between it and the ocean.
The tropical storm was downgraded to a sustained wind speed of 70 mph as it moved inland and crossed over the Hutchinson Island peninsula in North Florida. Before reaching the Treasure Coast off the coast, it gained strength in the warm waters and became a Category 1 hurricane by 4 a.M. On Wednesday evening, after moving across the northwestern Bahamas.
In its 10 a.M. Advisory, the NHC stated that Nicole had decreased in strength and was now traveling in the direction of west-northwest at a speed of 16 mph. The sustained winds had reached a speed of 50 mph, and the storm’s center was positioned near Zephyrhills, approximately 30 miles northeast of Tampa. Additionally, it was about 60 miles southwest of Orlando.
The center of the storm, located to the west and north of St. Augustine, is threatening the entire state with gusts of up to 70 mph. The storm’s strongest winds are concentrated in the northeast quadrant, and it is expected to continue lashing areas as it moves further into the northeastern corner of Florida’s Gulf Coast. The massive storm is stretching out 345 miles, with tropical-storm force winds, and is expected to venture farther into the northeastern corner of the state.
By Friday night, the southern region of the United States and the path towards Tallahassee will experience a second landfall. This landfall will occur further towards the north-northwest, specifically before 1 p.M., Just off the coast north of Tampa. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has predicted that the center of the storm will be located in this area.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, authorities had closed the Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay due to winds exceeding 50 mph by 7 a.M. The shutting down of sections of S.R. A1A and the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine was also compelled because of flooding in northeast Florida.
A tornado watch is currently in effect for Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Duval, Nassau, and Clay counties in Florida, as well as Camden and Glynn counties in Georgia, until 1 p.M. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the threat of tornadoes in Central Florida is considered moderate, with a higher chance in the northern region of the state. Additionally, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Jacksonville has issued a tornado warning for certain areas of St. Augustine until 9 a.M.
The National Weather Service reported that they observed gusts of up to 67 mph at New Smyrna Beach in Brevard County. In the southern areas of Patrick Air Force Base and Indialantic, the winds were even stronger, reaching speeds of 70 mph at 3 a.M. The Space Force Station at Cape Canaveral recorded gusts of 71 mph, while Playalinda Beach experienced gusts of 73 mph. The storm was moving towards the shore, and the National Weather Service recorded wind gusts of 73 mph in Melbourne.
According to NASA, hurricane-force winds of 50-60 mph persisted throughout the night, delivering sustained winds of 85 mph that the $4.1 billion hardware can withstand. The storm, riding out on the Artemis mission rocket to the moon, occurred at Kennedy Space Center on Launch Pad 39-B, where a tower pad recorded gusts of more than 100 mph at an elevated height of over 400 feet.
As reported by poweroutage.Us, approximately 8,000 patrons experienced a power outage in Lake County, over 30,000 in Volusia, over 30,000 in Seminole, almost 50,000 in Orange, and nearly 80,000 in Brevard County. By midday, the number of customers without electricity exceeded 330,000, and power disruptions have escalated throughout the state during the night.
He stated that 17,000 linemen were deployed to address power outages. Governor Ron DeSantis conducted a press conference at 10:30 a.M. In Tallahassee, streamed live on the governor’s Facebook page and TheFloridaChannel.Org, where Kevin Guthrie, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Emergency Operations Center, provided updates.
DeSantis stated that the system was responsible for the presence of trees and power lines, as well as the formation of 5-foot storm surges through intense rainfall, resulting in road washouts and the endangerment of homes due to beach erosion along the coastal counties of Brevard, Volusia Flagler, and St. Johns.
Following the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Nicole “has placed many buildings at risk,” he stated.
Sixty-two educational districts were shut down. DeSantis announced a state of crisis on Monday and extended it to cover the whole state on Thursday morning. Over 50 counties were under a warning for a tropical storm, which is expected to diminish as the storm progresses through the state.
“We are prepared to address any needs that arise,” DeSantis stated.
The state has deployed 250 crews from the Florida Department of Transportation to initiate damage assessments, bridge inspections, and debris removal. Additionally, there are seven urban search and rescue teams and 600 national guardsmen on standby.
“The individuals standing behind me deserve all the recognition,” remarked Kevin Guthrie, the director of emergency management. “They have been diligently working for 48 consecutive days and are still tirelessly addressing the most crucial needs of Floridians,” he declared.
The eastern coastline of Florida, starting from Sebastian Inlet and extending northwards into South Carolina, as well as the Gulf Coast spanning from Englewood to Indian Pass, are both experiencing the effects of a tropical storm. However, a tropical storm warning is still in effect. The National Weather Service (NWS) has also issued a tropical storm warning for all inland counties in Central Florida. The National Hurricane Center (NHC), on the other hand, has lifted its hurricane warning for the state.
“NHC forecasters stated that Nicole is anticipated to combine with a frontal boundary across the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States by Friday night. The experts predict that Nicole will experience further weakening as it traverses over land in the upcoming day or two, and it is probable that the storm will transform into a tropical depression over Georgia tonight or early Friday.”
The National Weather Service warned that there would be continuous dangerous rip currents, accompanied by large breaking waves surpassing a height of 10 feet.
According to the announcement, there is a potential for tidal flooding in the Intracoastal Waterway, Halifax River, Ponce Inlet, and Sebastian Inlet between 9:00 PM and 9:45 PM tonight, as well as between 8:45 AM and 9:30 AM during the high tide cycle along the beachside. The announcement also mentioned that these high astronomical tides, combined with strong winds and high surf, may lead to significant beach erosion and the possibility of significant water runup.
“Further overwash or breaching of dunes and flooding of nearby low-lying coastal regions is anticipated,” stated the National Weather Service (NWS).
The National Weather Service cautioned that susceptible coastal structures may be jeopardized or entirely crumble. Especially prone to further beach erosion, dune breaching, overwash, and coastal flooding are the coastal regions of Volusia County, which experienced significant harm from Hurricane Ian. Additionally, damaged sea walls may also be further compromised or destroyed.
“Expansive and powerful bands stretching a considerable distance from the core,” accompanied by “winds of tropical storm strength in the northern half,” were carrying Nicole’s sizable eye, measuring more than 57 miles across, as indicated in a previous report from the hurricane center.”
Fernandina Beach, which is situated close to Jacksonville on Amelia Island and is the northernmost city on Florida’s Atlantic coast, also experiences a water level of 4.5 feet above Mean Higher High Water. This measurement represents the average height of the highest tide recorded daily around 2 a.M. At an NOAA tide gauge located in Nassau County.
Tampa Bay, located in Manatee and Pinellas counties, experienced wave heights of 10 feet, while Manatee County saw wave heights of 11 feet. Additionally, wave heights along the Gulf coast of Florida began to increase, with Brevard County reporting heights of 18 feet and Volusia County reporting heights of 19 feet. St. Lucie County recorded wave heights of 22 feet. These wave height measurements were reported by Tampa Bay Spectrum News.
Since recordkeeping began in 1853 with Hurricane Kate in 1985, Florida has not experienced a November hurricane strike, with the exception of the 1935 Yankee Hurricane. It is important to note that hurricane season concludes on November 30th.
Numerous residents of Florida were instructed to evacuate ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Nicole.
Throughout the day, the expansive system’s peripheral bands advanced towards the mainland, causing flooded streets in South Florida and extending up to the Treasure Coast on Wednesday due to rain squalls and high tide. The storm surge had reached the sea walls and forcefully collided with beachside structures along the entire eastern coast of Florida, which were already weakened by Hurricane Ian earlier in the day.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said that a tweet in the office stated that the Indian River runs parallel to Drive River, which had already breached the seawall and surged from Tropical Storm Nicole. The seawater also breached a part of the road on Hutchinson Island, according to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.
Prior to its arrival, Disney and Universal declared closures while multiple airports in Florida suspended operations.
As per a report by NBC affiliate WESH, numerous buildings were considered hazardous in Daytona Beach Shores, leading to their evacuation by the police due to increased erosion caused by the waves. Additionally, social media updates from ABC affiliate WFTV journalist Christy Turner displayed structures that were “collapsing into the sea” as the waves persisted in their powerful surge.
Earlier on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) stated that the system arrived at Great Abaco Island, Bahamas at 11:55 a.M.
Rebuilding from this momentous storm, the landfall is reminiscent of the destructive Hurricane Dorian in 2019, and it marks the initial tropical system to strike the Bahamas since that time.
≫> LIVE UPDATES ON HURRICANE NICOLE: The most recent effects of the tempest on Central Florida.
Counties across the state of Florida expanded the state’s emergency declaration today, as Governor DeSantis opened up federal assistance for emergency response. President Biden issued an emergency declaration for Florida today, indicating that federal aid is available.
DeSantis also permitted the mobilization of 570 Guardsmen in the Florida National Guard to assist in relief efforts for the impending storm.
The statement from the public affairs office of the Guard states, “Our troops are ready to carry out a range of tasks including managing bridge entry control points, regulating traffic, conducting search and rescue operations, providing security, and installing Tiger Dam systems.” These troops are currently strategically positioning themselves across the state but will remain adaptable to relocate as necessary in order to ensure a prompt response.
According to forecasters, the system will travel across the peninsula and intensify overnight as the possibility of tornadoes will emerge this evening.
The National Weather Service announced that later this morning, Central Florida will still be under a flood watch due to the expected deluge from the storm, which is now forecasted to move faster than originally anticipated.
The National Weather Service stated that the combination of heavy rainfall and strong northeast winds could cause additional flooding and water standing concerns in the Saint Johns River Basin. This could also result in additional areas being flooded, including some areas along the Saint Johns River where major flood stages are currently being reached.
Forecasters cautioned that the time for preparations before hazardous conditions arrive in the state is nearing its end.
If you haven’t already done so, Nicole should rush to complete any significant preparations before morning, as the NWS stated that outdoor activities can become dangerous before completion.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued by Volusia County for all camping grounds and recreational vehicle parks, as well as for all areas that are susceptible to flooding and low-lying regions. Manufactured home residents located east of Interstate 95, along with all individuals residing east of the Intracoastal Waterway, were also included in the evacuation orders.
Kevin Captain, the director of community information for the Volusia County government, stated that it is necessary to increase the vulnerability of some structures and further damage or collapse due to the surge and storm’s wave runup. This is because many of our coastal properties have sustained significant damage as a result of this storm.
Brevard, Flagler, Martin, St. Lucie, St. Johns, and Palm Beach counties also issued comparable evacuation orders or suggestions.
By Tuesday evening, it achieved a speed of 70 mph, gathering strength from consistent winds of 45 mph throughout the day. Its center managed to become more distinct, indicating that it traveled over warmer waters as the system transformed on Tuesday morning from Subtropical Storm Nicole.
In anticipation of the storm’s arrival, Volusia, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard, Lake, and County schools have made the decision to cancel classes on Thursday, while also planning for a holiday on Friday for Veterans Day.
Housing at UCF will stay operational and open for all residents during the storm, but UCF was also shutting down for both online classes and campus.
On Wednesday afternoon, all 126 crossings along the 61.5-mile corridor of Orlando International Airport, Melbourne International Airport, Daytona Beach International Airport, and Palm Beach International Airport have been inspected and will not reopen until they are deemed safe. Additionally, SunRail train service will also be shut down on Wednesday.
Starting from Wednesday afternoon, several theme parks in Orlando, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld, have also revealed their plans for a gradual closure. In addition to the theme parks, the water parks in Orlando have already designated a specific day for their shutdown.
Sentinel staff writer Jeffrey Schweers, Cristobal Reyes, Leslie Postal, the Sun Sentinel, and The Associated Press all contributed to this report.
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