Science

Hurricane Nicole on the verge of hitting Florida

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The impact of Hurricane Nicole is seen off the east coast of Florida early November 10, 2022.

NOAA


Hurricane Nicole moved off the east coast of Florida early Thursday and was expected to reach overnight.

The storm strengthened into a hurricane on Wednesday evening as it rocked the Bahamas, and US officials ordered evacuations that included former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.

This is a rare November hurricane for hurricane-weary Florida, where there have only been two such hurricanes since record-keeping began in 1853—the Yankee Hurricane and Hurricane Kate in 1985.

Nicole was expected to reach Florida with a storm surge that could further destroy many beaches Hit by Hurricane Ian in SeptemberThen later on Thursdays and Fridays move to Georgia and the Carolinas.

“Severe winds, dangerous storms and waves and heavy rain continue over a large area,” the Hurricane Center said early Thursday.

According to PowerOutage.us, as soon as Nicole contacted it, about 54,000 homes and businesses in Florida had no electricity.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Nicole’s center was just 15 miles east-southeast of Fort Pierce, Florida. It was moving to the west-northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane.

The threshold for a hurricane to be considered a hurricane is sustained winds of 74 mph.

The giant storm became a hurricane after making landfall in Grand Bahama a few hours earlier as a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph on the vast Abaco Islands.

Nicole is the first hurricane to hit the Bahamas Hurricane DorianA Category 5 hurricane that devastated the archipelago in 2019.

In the Bahamas, officials said more than 860 people were in more than two dozen shelters. Widespread flooding, downed trees and loss of power and water were reported in the northwestern region of the archipelago.

Officials were particularly concerned about a large Haitian community in Great Abaco that was destroyed by the Dorians and has since grown from 50 acres (20 ha) to 200 acres (80 ha).

“Don’t put yourself in harm’s way,” said Zhivago Dames, assistant commissioner of police information. He urged everyone to stay indoors. “Our first responders are out there. However, they won’t put their lives in danger.”

In Florida, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet that the storm from Tropical Storm Nicole has breached a sea wall along Indian River Drive, which runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office also said seawater had broken part of a road on Hutchinson Island.

Residents of several Florida counties – Flagler, Palm Beach, Martin and Volusia – were ordered to evacuate barrier islands, low-lying areas and mobile homes. Daytona Beach home Volusia imposed a curfew and warned that the intercoastal bridges used by evacuees would be closed when winds reached 39 mph.

Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s club and home, is one of those evacuation areas, about a quarter-mile from the ocean. The main buildings sit at a small elevation about 15 feet above sea level, and the property has survived several strong storms since it was built nearly a century ago. The resort’s security office was closed on Wednesday after an Associated Press reporter asked if the club was being evacuated and there were no signs of evacuation by noon.

There is no penalty for ignoring an evacuation order, but rescuers will not respond if it puts their members at risk.

In Palm Beach County, about 400 people checked into seven evacuation centers. Hidir Dontar, a software engineer, who was carrying a backpack and plastic bag with his belongings, was one of them. He said he didn’t want to stay in his apartment because the landlord wasn’t putting shutters on the windows, so he didn’t feel safe after living through “a bad one” in 2004, Hurricane Frances.

“I didn’t want to be in the middle of a storm, something has gone wrong and wonder, ‘What do I do now?'” Dontar said.

Meanwhile, officials in Daytona Beach Shores deemed at least half a dozen multi-story, coastal residential buildings unsafe, which had already been damaged by Hurricane Ian and now threatened by Nicole. In some places, officials went door to door asking people to grab their property and leave.

Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort announced that they are closing and will likely not reopen as scheduled on Thursday.

Palm Beach International Airport closed Wednesday morning and Daytona Beach International Airport said it would cease operations. Orlando International Airport, America’s seventh busiest, also closed. Further south, officials said Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport were experiencing some flight delays and cancellations, but both planned to remain open.

At a news conference in Tallahassee, Governor Ron DeSantis said winds were the biggest concern and there could be significant power outages, but 16,000 linemen as well as 600 guards and seven search and rescue teams were on standby to restore power. .

“It will affect large parts of the state of Florida throughout the day,” DeSantis said of the storm’s potential landfall.

The governor said nearly two dozen school districts are closing schools for the storm and that 15 shelters are open on Florida’s east coast.

Forty-five of Florida’s 67 counties were subject to an emergency declaration.

Florida Division of Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie said Floridians should expect potential tornadoes, rip currents and flash floods.

The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Philip Brave Davis, who is hereThe COP27 United Nations Climate Summitdrew attention to the link between the storms and Climate change,

“There have always been storms, but as the planet warms from carbon emissions, storms are increasing in intensity and frequency,” he said. “For those living in Grand Bahama and Abaco, I know it’s especially difficult for you to weather another hurricane,”

New warnings and watches were issued for many parts of Florida, including the southwestern Gulf coastline that was devastated by Hurricane Ian, which peaked as a Category 4 hurricane on September 28. Ian destroyed homes and damaged crops, including orange trees, across the state. , damage that many are still dealing with.

In Florida, the Hurricane Center said, “the combination of dangerous storms and tides will result in flooding of normally dry areas near the coast, which will be filled with water rising inland from the shoreline.”

Daniel Brown, a senior hurricane specialist at the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, said the storm would affect a large part of the state.

“Because the system is so large, virtually the entire east coast of Florida and the Keys is going to receive tropical storm force winds except in the extreme southeast,” he said.

Forecasters said the storm is expected to move from central and northern Florida to southern Georgia on Thursday. After this, it was forecast to cross the Carolinas on Friday.

“We’re going to be concerned about rain as we approach parts of the southeastern United States and the southern Appalachians later in the week, where there may be some flooding, with some of that rain,” Brown said.

Early Wednesday, President Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts for the impending hurricane. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is still responding to those in need from Hurricane Ian.

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