Miami, Nov 7 (EFE).- Subtropical Storm Nicole, which has formed east of the Bahamas, will increase to hurricane strength as it approaches that archipelago on Wednesday before it continues on toward the east coast of Florida, bringing high winds and heavy rain, along with a dangerous storm surge.
According to Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC), Nicole is presently located some 495 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas and packing maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour.
A section of Florida’s east coast north of Miami is already under a hurricane watch and a storm surge warning has been issued for the US coastline extending from Hallandale Beach, Florida, up to Altamaha Sound in Georgia, along with other advisories of lesser importance for the same area.
Authorities in The Bahamas, Florida and along the southeastern US coast should monitor the progress of Nicole, which formed with just 20 days remaining in this year’s Atlantic storm season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, the NHC said.
Historically, it has been extremely rare for a November storm to impact Florida.
The storm is moving toward the northwest at about 9 miles per hour and is expected to continue along that track, albeit at a slower pace, on Monday.
After that, the forecast is for the system to make a turn to the west or west-southwest between Tuesday and early Thursday.
According to the forecast track, the center of Nicole will approach the northwestern Bahamas on Tuesday, will pass near or over those islands on Wednesday and then will approach Florida’s east coast on Wednesday night.
Although at present Nicole’s maximum sustained winds have been measured at about 45 mph, stronger gusts are in evidence and the storm is predicted to gradually increase in strength in the coming days. Winds of 40 mph or more extend out 275 miles from the center of the system.
On Wednesday, Nicole should strengthen to – or to close to – hurricane force, which is 74 mph.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis encouraged all Floridians to “be prepared” and to “make a plan” in case the storm affects the Sunshine State.
Besides high winds and heavy rain, Nicole could bring a storm surge of between 3 and 5 feet to coastal areas along with between 2-6 inches of rain.
The NHC is also monitoring a well-defined area of low pressure known as Invest 97L located about 650 miles east of Bermuda which is continuing to produce high winds, heavy rain and thunderstorms.
Expectations are that conditions will continue to be unfavorable for that system’s development on Monday, but they could improve on Tuesday and a short-term tropical storm still could form if the system begins to move toward the north and later to the northeast at about 10 mph.
The probability that the system will develop further over the next two days is calculated at 60 percent.
Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, struck Florida’s southwest coast in September, causing widespread devastation to local communities and killing at least 140 people in the state.