TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A less-powerful Tropical Storm Nicole has continued to move across Florida and batter the state with strong winds and heavy rain.
The system quickly weakened to a tropical storm after making landfall along the east coast of Florida as a Category 1 hurricane. The storm was the first hurricane to make landfall in the US this late in the season in about 40 years. It’s the third time on record a hurricane has struck Florida in November.
But about an hour after the hurricane made landfall on North Hutchinson Island Thursday morning, it weakened to a tropical storm, and some watches and warnings were downgraded or discontinued.
The latest NHC advisory said Nicole was centered about 95 miles southeast of Tallahassee, or 105 north-northwest of Tampa, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. It was moving northwest at 15 mph, and had tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 175 miles from its center.
Nicole’s strength is not forecast to change much as the center follows the big bend of Florida and moves over the Panhandle, but the NHC said it will likely become a tropical depression over Georgia Thursday night before it merges with a frontal boundary over the Mid-Atlantic.
Tropical storm conditions will continue for warning areas in northern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina tonight.
The NHC said the Florida peninsula could see an inch or less of additional rainfall, while the eastern panhandle, the southeastern US, southern and central Appalachians, western Mid-Atlantic, and eastern portions of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio could see 2 to 4 inches of rain and the northern Mid-Atlantic and parts of New York could see 1 to 4 inches.
A Flood Warning is in effect for Hillsborough County through 1 p.m. Saturday.
“Flooding is not a huge concern with Nicole [in Tampa Bay] because the ground has had time to dry out since the flooding seen with Hurricane Ian. River levels are all back to normal and any rain that does fall, will first soak into the ground before moving toward the rivers. The Tampa Bay area will also see far less rain than Hurricane Ian brought,” said Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Amanda Holly.
Although the storm will have passed, swells generated by Nicole — which can cause life-threatening surf and rip conditions — will likely affect the northwestern Bahamas, the east coast of Florida, and much of the southeastern United States coast over the next few days.
Watches and Warnings
A tropical storm warning is in effect for:
- The Flagler/Volusia county line Florida to Altamaha Sound Georgia
- Aripeka to Indian Pass Florida
A storm surge warning is in effect for:
- Flagler/Volusia County Line Florida to Altamaha Sound Georgia
- Mouth of the St. Johns River to Georgetown Florida
- Anclote River Florida to Ochlockonee River Florida