Florida Gov Ron DeSantis presented an update on the effects of Tropical Storm Nicole as it passed through Florida on Thursday, November 10.
DeSantis said that the storm made landfall in the state overnight as a Category 1 hurricane, though it was later reclassified as a tropical storm.
The governor said that Nicole was “not as significant of a storm as Hurricane Ian,” but that it poses a particular threat to areas that were heavily affected by Ian, such as Volusia County.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasted that the “large tropical storm” would “move across the west-central Florida peninsula” and then “emerge over the far northeastern Gulf of Mexico” on Thursday. There was “little change in strength” expected, the NHC said. Credit: Governor Ron DeSantis via Storyful
- As of 10:00 AM, it was located roughly 50 miles west of Orlando, and it was moving west northwest at 16 miles per hour. Nicole still is a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour. The storm made landfall overnight as a category 1 hurricane just south of Vero Beach and is continuing to move through the state.
The most recent track shows it exiting the Florida Peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico and then re-entering Florida in the Big Bend region. Now, the wind from the storm is still very large, and the impacts stretch far beyond the center track with much of the state already experiencing tropical storm force winds. Winds have been the main concern with Nicole, but we've also seen heavy rains that have resulted in three to five foot of storm surge, and some areas have also seen potential flash flooding.
Impacts have been basically what's been expected. You do have downed trees. You have power lines. You have some road washouts combined winds and storm surge. We've seen beach erosion, especially in areas that had already seen erosion from Hurricane Ian. And these are places like Brevard, Volusia, Flagler, and St John's counties. After the storm, there will likely be flooding in some areas, so make sure to avoid floodwaters as there may be downed power lines and other hazards.
This morning more than 50 counties were under tropical storm warnings, and that number will continue to go down as the storm moves across the state. We're ready, and we have resources to respond to whatever post-storm needs may arise. And I declared a state of emergency on Monday for 34 counties so that they had ample time to prepare for the storm. This morning, as an abundance of caution, we've expanded that to all counties just simply because we're not sure the extent of the impacts in Northwest Florida in particular.
Kevin and his team have been in constant communication with utility providers. We now have [? 333,000 ?] accounts without power. That's 2.98% of the state. 23.3% out in Brevard; 16.6% in Indian River; and then Volusia, Seminole, Putnam, and Orange all smaller percentages than that. But there are 17,000 linemen staged to immediately begin power restoration efforts as soon as it's safe to do so. And certainly, as you get into places like the Martin, St Lucie area people have been working in those areas and will continue to go in as it's safe in other parts of the state.
We had activated 600 National Guardsmen, have seven urban search and rescue teams on standby ready to respond as soon as the weather clears. We also have FWC's high water vehicles ready to assist in response efforts should that be needed. We have 250 Florida Department of Transportation crews that are ready to deploy and begin damage assessment, bridge inspections, and cut and toss operations to clear roadways as is necessary.
61 school districts are closed for today, and of course, schools are closed tomorrow for Veteran's Day. If you-- an updated list for that, you can go to Florida-- fldoe.org. I want to thank Kevin and everybody for working hard. This is obviously not as significant a storm as Hurricane Ian was, but coming on the heels of that, you're seeing communities, particularly in the Volusia County area, where you had a lot of that erosion on the coastline. This has put some of those structures in jeopardy, and they've been working very hard to make sure everybody's safe. So I want to thank everyone for their efforts there, and we'll hear from Kevin with further updates.