Nicole has strengthened to a tropical storm and could be upgraded to a hurricane before reaching parts of Florida and the southeast coast, the National Hurricane Center announced on Tuesday (November 8).
Tropical Storm Nicole was reported to be about 460 miles east of West Palm Beach moving at 9 MPH with 50 MPH maximum sustained winds and a hurricane watch has been issued for Florida, the agency confirmed.
“Anywhere in that area, including places like West Palm Beach, Stewart, Melbourne, up to Daytona Beach, anywhere in here is at the risk of hurricane conditions as we are expecting Nicole to take advantage of these warm waters and go on and intensify to a hurricane as it approaches the coast during the next 36 to 48 hours,” acting National Hurricane Center Deputy Director Michael Brennan said during an update on Tuesday.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the 34 counties expected to be affected by the storm on Monday, which includes Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Orange and Sarasota counties.
“While this storm does not, at this time, appear that it will become much stronger, I urge all Floridians to be prepared and to listen to announcements from local emergency management officials,” DeSantis said via NBC News. “We will continue to monitor the trajectory and strength of this storm as it moves towards Florida.”
Florida is just weeks removed from the devastating Hurricane Ian making landfall.
Hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28 near Cayo Costa as a Category 4 hurricane with winds reaching up to 150 MPH, making it one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in Florida, according to NBC News forecasters.
At least 127 people in Florida died in relation to Hurricane Ian, according to ABC News, making it the deadliest storm to hit the state since 1935.
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm on September 29 before strengthening back into a hurricane prior to making landfall in South Carolina on September 30.
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Florida after Ian made landfall on September 28 and ordered federal aid to help in state and local recovery efforts in areas directly affected, the White House confirmed in a statement obtained by NBC News.