Batten down the hatches! Nicole is just getting started.
Formerly known as Subtropical Storm Nicole, the Atlantic latecomer decided she's more "domme" than "sub" and strengthened into a tropical storm on Tuesday.
As she closes in on Florida's east coast, meteorologists expect Nicole will become a Category 1 hurricane by the time the storm makes landfall somewhere around Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties. If that does transpire, it'll cement a unique status for Nicole's entry in the past century's storm catalog.
"If it manages to intensify just a tiny bit into a Category 1 when it hits Florida, that is a very rare thing. We've only had one other hurricane to hit anywhere in South or Central Florida in November," notes Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher with the University of Miami.
The last late bloomer to arrive this late in the season was the Yankee Hurricane of 1935 (they didn't have people names back then). Since the Category 2 storm hit what is now Bal Harbour on November 4, 1935, no hurricane has made landfall in South or Central Florida post-Halloween.
Nicole is already putting in an effort to make Miami history in small ways, even before she makes landfall.
Winds from Tropical Storm Nicole mingled with a Tuesday-night full moon and rising seas for a record-breaking high tide in Miami on Wednesday morning.
High tide around 9 a.m. Wednesday reached about 2.9 feet above average sea level, according to McNoldy and US Harbors. That is the highest tide the Magic City has seen since almost exactly two years ago, when Tropical Storm Eta churned up the Atlantic in November of 2020.
McNoldy says Miamians should pay attention to the tides and storm-surge warnings in the next few days because, to put it indelicately, Nicole is a big girl.
"As a tropical storm right now, it’s on the very, very large size. A storm with a large wind field is really good at creating a larger storm surge," McNoldy explains.
Current projections have Nicole's winds engulfing almost the entirety of Florida, and as McNoldy warns, that means the risk of high tides and flooding will be much higher and last much longer than a storm of similar strength but more diminutive dimensions.
While Miamians are fortunate in avoiding the worst of Nicole — perhaps thanks in no small part to brujeria — South Floridians should still be wary of the coastline for the next few days and try not to drive through large bodies of standing water. Or surf through them, for that matter, unless they can snag some cool video of it.
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