Subtropical Storm Nicole Prompts Hurricane Watch For Florida’s East Coast

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  • Subtropical Storm Nicole formed east of the Bahamas early Monday.
  • This storm will track toward the Bahamas and the Southeast U.S. coast this week.
  • Nicole could be a strong tropical storm or possibly at hurricane strength when it nears Florida.
  • Hurricane, storm surge and tropical storm watches have been issued in Florida.
  • Strong winds, heavy rain, high surf, rip currents and coastal flooding are expected along the Southeast coast.

Subtropical Storm Nicole has prompted hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge alerts as a prolonged period of coastal flooding, beach erosion, strong winds, high surf, rip currents and heavy rain is expected in Florida and parts of the Southeast this week.

Nicole became the 14th storm of the Atlantic season early Monday morning and is centered several hundred miles east of the Bahamas.

The storm has been classified as subtropical for now, which means it’s a hybrid type system that has characteristics of both a tropical and non-tropical storm. Nicole is forecast to transition into a fully tropical storm in the next day or so.

(​MORE: Difference Between Subtropical And Tropical)

A​ hurricane warning has been issued for parts of the northwestern Bahamas, including Freeport, Grand Bahama. This means hurricane conditions are expected in the area, in this case by early Wednesday.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued in Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera islands in the Bahamas, including Nassau, where tropical storm conditions are expected in the next 36 hours.

A​ hurricane watch has been issued in eastern Florida from the Space Coast south to Hallandale Beach in Broward County, including Lake Okeechobee.

T​ropical storm watches extend south to Miami-Dade County and extend north of the Space Coast into Glynn County, Georgia, including Daytona Beach and St. Simons Island.

A​ storm surge watch is also in effect from Glynn County, Georgia, to Broward County, Florida, as well as a stretch of the St. Johns River in northeast Florida from East Palatka to the where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean north of Jacksonville Beach.

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F​orecast Track, Intensity

Nicole is making its turn and will continue its general westward track toward the Bahamas and Florida through midweek.

Nicole may become a Category 1 hurricane at any time near the northwest Bahamas or prior to landfall on Florida’s Atlantic coast sometime late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. However, impacts will arrive well before that happens, as we’ll detail below.

Nicole will then curl north near or over Florida before getting picked up by a cold front that turns the storm northeastward over the Southeast states or its adjacent coastal waters late this week.

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Current Status, Forecast Path

(The red-shaded area denotes the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. It’s important to note that impacts (particularly heavy rain, high surf, coastal flooding, winds) with any tropical cyclone usually spread beyond its forecast path.
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Southeast Forecast Impacts

R​egardless of what it’s called, Nicole will be a large system, with impacts spreading far from its center, arriving sooner than, and lasting longer than, the passage of its center.

S​torm Surge, Coastal Flood, Beach Erosion

Persistent onshore winds well ahead of Nicole’s center will lead to coastal flooding along parts of the Southeast coast from Florida to the Carolinas beginning Tuesday.

This c​oastal flooding at high tide will increase each day and peak as storm surge as the center of Nicole approaches early Thursday morning. The National Hurricane Center’s peak storm surge forecast, if it occurs at high tide, is shown below.

Given coastal flooding over multiple high tide cycles and battering waves riding atop the storm surge, major beach erosion and some damage to infrastructure is expected along Florida’s east coast and parts of the Georgia coast. This is particularly the case for eastern Florida’s coast damaged from Hurricane Ian in late September, as the NWS office in Melbourne, Florida, noted.

S​ome moderate to major coastal flooding is also possible as far north as the Carolinas, including Charleston, South Carolina, and Tybee Island, Georgia.

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(Peak storm surge forecast from NHC if surge arrives at high tide.)

W​inds

Gusty winds are already increasing on the Southeast coast because of a pressure difference between Nicole and a strong high-pressure system building toward the eastern states.

T​ropical storm-force winds could arrive in the northwest Bahamas Tuesday night into early Wednesday, and along Florida’s East Coast as soon as Wednesday. This could make preparations more difficult.

H​urricane conditions, if they occur, could arrive in the northwestern Bahamas by early Wednesday and in eastern Florida by Wednesday night.

W​inds of this magnitude are capable of downing trees and knocking out power.

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(This map illustrates the timing and potential aerial extent of tropical storm force winds. While some areas may experience hurricane-force winds, the onset of tropical storm-force winds will make storm preparations more difficult. )

R​ainfall

While some bands of locally heavy rain are possible along the coast of Florida as soon as Tuesday, the heaviest rain is expected in Florida beginning Wednesday, then should spread north into parts of eastern Georgia and the Carolinas Thursday through Saturday.

T​he heaviest rainfall totals are expected in northeast Florida, including some areas flooded from Hurricane Ian’s rain. Parts of the St. Johns River are still above flood stage following Ian’s rain about six weeks ago. According to the NWS Southeast River Forecast Center, the St. Johns River may switch from slowly falling to slowly rising levels after Nicole’s rainfall late this week.

A broad footprint of at least an inch or two of rain is possible from parts of southern Florida into the Carolinas.

T​his could lead to flash flooding and some river flooding.

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Rainfall Outlook

(This should be interpreted as a broad outlook of where the heaviest rain may fall. Higher amounts may occur where bands or clusters of thunderstorms stall for over a period of a few hours.
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As with most landfalling storms, s​ome isolated tornadoes are also possible in Nicole’s rainbands from Wednesday through Friday in Florida and possibly other parts of the Southeast.

Check back with us at weather.com for important updates on Nicole.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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