LAKE MARY, Fla. - Tropical Storm Nicole weakened to a tropical depression Thursday night as it crossed the Florida Panhandle on its way north into Georgia.
The storm had sent Florida homes toppling into the Atlantic Ocean earlier Thursday and threatened a row of high-rise condominiums in places where Hurricane Ian washed away the beach and destroyed seawalls only weeks ago.
Although Nicole’s winds died down after it made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at about 3 a.m. Thursday near Vero Beach, its storm surge slammed into the shoreline in the neighboring barrier island communities of Wilbur-by-the-Sea and Daytona Beach Shores, sending some homes crashing into the ocean.
Officials in Volusia County said Thursday evening that building inspectors had declared 24 hotels and condos in Daytona Beach Shores and New Smyrna Beach to be unsafe and had ordered their evacuations. At least 25 single-family homes in Wilbur-by-the-Sea had been declared structurally unsafe by building inspectors and also were evacuated, county officials said.
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According to NASA, even before making landfall, Hurricane Nicole produced nearly 90-mph wind gusts on Florida's Space Coast, where NASA's Space Launch System rocket is on the launchpad awaiting its launch to the moon. Around 2 a.m., an 86-mph wind gust was recorded on a lightning tower near the Kennedy Space Center launchpad – exceeding the SLS certification – according to the National Weather Service. After landfall, a 100-mph wind gust was recorded at launchpad 39B.
Below is a sampling from a list of the highest reported wind gusts elsewhere in Central Florida during Nicole's trek across the state, as verified by the National Weather Service.
- Port St. John – 75 mph
- Melbourne – 72 mph
- Patrick AFB Cocoa – 68 mph
- Playalinda Beach – 61 mph
- Titusville – 45 mph
- Leesburg – 49 mph
- Mount Dora – 46 mph
- Orlando – 66 mph
- Lake Nona – 57 mph
- Maitland – 55 mph
- Magic Kingdom – 41 mph
- Kissimmee – 52 mph
- St. Cloud – 50 mph
- Sanford – 64 mph
- Winter Springs – 64 mph
- Daytona Beach – 70 mph
- DeLand – 54 mph
- New Smyrna Beach – 56 mph
- Wilbur-by-the-Sea – 55 mph
By comparison, you can see wind gusts verified by the NWS during Hurricane Ian here.