Tropical Storm Nicole strengthens into hurricane, will likely batter Florida

Waves batter the Florida coastline as Tropical Storm Nicole strengthens.
Waves batter the Florida coastline as Tropical Storm Nicole strengthens. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Nicole reached hurricane status on Wednesday and will likely make landfall in Florida later in the evening, the Washington Post reported.

According to the Post, Nicole was updated from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane this afternoon as it neared the Florida shore. Citing data from the National Hurricane Center, the Orlando Sentinel said Hurricane Nicole has already battered the Bahamas with gale-force winds up to 70 mph.

Thousands of Floridians are reportedly under an evacuation order, and state and federal officials have further implemented hurricane warnings across the coast.

"Hurricane conditions are expected across portions of the coast of southeast and east-central Florida beginning this evening or tonight, where a hurricane warning is in effect," the NHC said. "The storm surge will be accompanied by large and damaging waves along the Atlantic coast."

The hurricane couldn't come at a worse time for the state, as Florida is still recovering from the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Ian at the end of September. The massive Category 4 storm caused damage across multiple states, and was the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida in nearly 90 years.

Torrential rains from Nicole were already beginning to breach sea walls and beachside structures that had been left vulnerable by Ian, the Sentinel reported. This caused flooding in streets throughout South Florida as the storm made its way closer to the coastline.

A reporter with WFTV-TV tweeted a video of tides washing onto the shore, and said a seawall across from the beach was beginning to falter.

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