Subtropical Storm Nicole currently to make landfall Wednesday, according to National Hurricane Center on Nov. 7, 2022. Credit: National Hurricane Center
An incoming storm in the Atlantic named Nicole is cutting close to disrupting the general elections Tuesday, but current projections forecast the brunt of the impacts to hit the East Coast of Florida by Wednesday and Thursday.
Meanwhile, in an “abundance of caution,” Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a state of emergency for 34 counties — about half the counties in Florida as Election Day arrives on Tuesday.
“Communities can prepare and families and businesses can create a plan and gather necessary resources in the event that subtropical Storm Nicole gains in strength,” DeSantis said in a press release Monday.
The governor’s lengthy executive order includes much of Florida’s peninsula on the Atlantic coast and as well as parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
The 34 counties are: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, DeSoto, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, and Volusia.
DeSantis, a Republican who is in a gubernatorial race against Democrat Charlie Crist, is scheduled to be in Hillsborough County on Tuesday, at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa for an election celebration. Crist is scheduled to be in St. Petersburg, in Pinellas County, at his election night event. Pinellas is not among the 34 counties in the emergency order, but Hillsborough is.
According to an update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC):
“On the forecast track, the center of Nicole will approach the northwestern Bahamas on Tuesday and Tuesday night, move near or over those islands on Wednesday, and approach the east coast of Florida Wednesday night.”
If that occurs, the Florida election should be wrapped up by the time Nicole, currently categorized as a “subtropical” storm, arrives on the to the coast, according to projections.
That said, Nicole is a large storm and is expected to intensify as it moves through the Atlantic.
A portion of the Atlantic Coast from the Brevard and Volusia County line to Hallandale Beach in Broward County and Lake Okeechobee in Southcentral Florida — are under a hurricane watch, meaning that hurricane conditions are possible in the area.
Other areas are also under a tropical storm watch, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible from Northeast and Southeast Florida.
Nicole is expected to produce heavy rainfall for the Florida peninsula by Wednesday night and Thursday, ranging between two to six inches. Flash and urban flooding is also possible for the Florida peninsula and river rises on portions of the St. Johns River.
Conditions can change in the days that Nicole approaches the coast, and additional hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings will “likely be required later today or tonight,” NHC says.
In addition, despite the current forecasts highlighting the potential impacts on Southeast and central parts of Florida, the NHC advises to “not focus on the exact track of Nicole, since it is expected to be a large storm with hazards extending well to the north of the center, outside the cone, and affect much of the Florida peninsula and portions of the Southeast U.S.”
In late September leading up to when category four Hurricane Ian made landfall in the Lee County area, earlier projections placed the tentative landfall at the Tampa Bay area.
“While this storm does not, at this time, appear that it will become much stronger, I urge all Floridians to be prepared and to listen to announcements from local emergency management officials,” DeSantis said in a written statement according to a Monday press release.
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