After Hurricane Nicole made landfall early Thursday south of Vero Beach and started traveling up the state as a tropical storm, Gov. Ron DeSantis called it less "significant" than September’s Category 4 Hurricane Ian.
But DeSantis said he anticipated that Nicole, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane before heading to Central Florida and North Florida, would cause flooding and further damage coastal areas that sustained erosion in Ian.
"This is obviously not as significant storm as Hurricane Ian was, but coming on the heels of that, you're seeing communities, particularly in the Volusia County area, that had a lot of that erosion on the coastline," DeSantis said during a mid-morning news conference at the state Emergency Operations Center. "This has put some of those structures in jeopardy, and they've been working very hard to make sure everybody's safe."
HOW MANY DIED IN FLORIDA DUE TO HURRICANE NICOLE?
Tropical Storm Nicole has now been blamed for at a number of deaths in Florida.
Officials at the Orange County Sheriff's Office said two people were electrocuted by a downed power line early Thursday in Orlando. Two other people died in a crash on Florida’s Turnpike in the county Thursday morning, according to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings at a news conference.
In Brevard County, a 68-year-old Port Canaveral man died during the peak of Hurricane Nicole early Thursday in Cocoa. Around 4:33 a.m., a woman called 911 reporting that her husband was in distress, according to the Cocoa Police Department. The couple was on their yacht docked at Lee Wenner Park.
WHAT TYPE OF DESTRUCTION WAS CAUSED BY HURRICANE NICOLE?
Several homes have been heavily damaged and appear to be on borrowed time until they collapse into the Atlantic Ocean along the shores of a neighborhood near Daytona Beach as massive beach erosion continues in the wake of Hurricane Nicole.
Drone footage from storm chaser Brandon Clement with Live Storms Media shows four of the dozens of homes in the Wilbur-By-The-Sea area torn apart by the relentless surf. In one home, the ground is giving way underneath their outdoor deck, and a palm tree succumbs to gravity as the camera rolls.
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DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 10: People look on at homes that are partially toppled onto the beach after Hurricane Nicole came ashore on November10, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Nicole came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the state. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
HOW WIDESPREAD WERE POWER OUTAGES DUE TO HURRICANE NICOLE?
Nicole’s winds had knocked out power to about 330,000 electricity customers, with outages covering 23 percent of Brevard County, 17 percent of Indian River, and smaller percentages in Seminole, Volusia, Putnam, and Orange counties, DeSantis said.
State Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said efforts to restore power were underway in the Treasure Coast region. Utilities, including Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy Florida, said they had positioned thousands of crew members before the storm to address outages.
"Nicole continues to impact the state, but our restoration is well underway," Eric Silagy, president, and CEO of FPL, said in a statement Thursday morning. "During the height of the storm in the southern part of Florida, when crews were unable to travel safely, our smart grid technology was working to restore power remotely. Now, in the areas where winds are below 35 mph, our teams are out in full force, conducting critical damage assessments and restoring power."
FPL provides electricity on most of the state’s East Coast, while Duke has large numbers of customers in Central Florida and North Florida. Todd Fountain, Duke Energy Florida’s storm director, said in a statement that Duke "crews are ready to begin power restoration as soon as weather conditions safely allow." Guthrie also advised residents to be mindful of isolated tornadoes, elevated tides along the East Coast, and flooding in areas of the St. Johns River. He told reporters after the news conference that at least one building in Volusia County crumbled into the ocean and other coastal structures were on the verge of collapse.
STATE OF EMERGENCY ISSUED IN RESPONSE TO HURRICANE NICOLE
The state had 600 members of the Florida National Guard on standby, while the storm caused 61 school districts to close.
DeSantis also expanded to the entire state an executive order declaring a state of emergency. DeSantis’ initial declaration covered 34 counties and added 11 counties on Wednesday.
He pointed Thursday to "an abundance of caution" because of an unknown "extent of the impacts in Northwest Florida."
President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration on Wednesday, making federal assistance available to state and local response efforts. Biden’s order covered 40 counties.
Nicole was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall on northern Hutchinson Island in Indian River County.
The National Hurricane Center expected the storm to continue to weaken before entering the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon. Nicole wasn’t expected to remain over the Gulf long enough to intensify before again making landfall in Northwest Florida. Rain was falling as far north as Tallahassee late Thursday morning.
WHERE IS STORM NICOLE HEADED NEXT?
Tropical Storm Nicole weakened into a tropical depression late Thursday. Nicole's remnants will continue to move north, bringing significant rain to the East Coast and increasing the potential for flooding. Rain will begin to spread into Georgia and the Carolinas on Thursday and continue into Thursday night.
The rain will be heavy at times, resulting in a widespread 2 to 3 inches along with gusty winds. Some rain totals could exceed 5 inches.
On Friday, the rain will spread into the Ohio Valley, mid-Atlantic, and Northeast as what's left of Nicole begins the process of merging with the same storm system that will bring a blizzard to the northern Plains on Thursday. This will lead to widespread rain from the central Appalachians to parts of New York state and New England. Rumbles of thunder can be expected with this activity.
Friday night and into Saturday, the rain will be focused mainly across the Northeast, including New England. Friday evening plans in the region are likely to be impacted, and outdoor events may be ruined.
Some information taken from FOXWeather.com and News Service of Florida.