Tropical Storm Nicole, located about 250 miles east of West Palm Beach at daybreak Wednesday, is expected to attain hurricane status later today before making landfall along Florida’s Treasure or Space Coast late Wednesday or during the overnight hours into Thursday.
If Nicole strikes Florida as a hurricane, it would be the second Florida hurricane landfall this year after Ian on September 28th, making 2022 the first season with two Florida hurricane landfalls since 2005.
After gathering strength during the afternoon hours on Tuesday, Nicole held steady as a high-end tropical storm into Wednesday morning.
Dry air from 15,000 to 30,000 feet up continues to coil into Nicole’s core and plague faster strengthening, throwing a blanket over deeper convection firing around the circulation center.
Nevertheless, convection is fighting against the less-than-ideal atmosphere and Hurricane Hunters flying through Nicole this morning are finding a gradual fall again in surface pressures.
While Nicole is only a tick away from being a hurricane, we’re not anticipating significant strengthening before landfall and any hurricane winds (winds 74 mph or higher) will be limited to very near the landfall spot.
The bigger story are the far-reaching coastal impacts from Nicole’s broader wind field and the potential for aggravating rains inland through central and northeast Florida on Thursday.
Closer to home, minor to moderate coastal flooding was reported along Miami-Dade and Broward counties with the morning high tide. We’ll have one more high tide cycle tonight (between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.) to contend with coastal flooding before conditions improve on Thursday.
Expect winds to pick up through the day today – especially across parts of northern Broward County – and waves of squally rain increasing as Nicole draws near tonight.
The most widespread and heaviest rainfall should stay to our north into Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties, but we’ll need to watch for localized flooding, especially this evening.
Our weather will steadily improve by Thursday morning as drier air wraps down around the back side of Nicole. Despite the drying out, local waters will stay choppy through at least Thursday and the threat for dangerous rip currents along our beaches will hang around through the end of the workweek.
Nicole is forecast to turn northward and accelerate into the northeast U.S. by this weekend ahead of an approaching cold front, where its remnants could bring localized flooding to end the week.
Behind Nicole, a curtain of storm-protective wind shear will fall back over the mainland states, including Florida, as the tropics look to finally settle down in the weeks ahead.