Storm Nicole is nearing landfall in Florida, prompting evacuations as officials warn of a “threat to life”. During Wednesday, the tropical storm is expected to strengthen into a Category One hurricane. As a result, schools are closing, airports shutting down and residents boarding up windows as the tropical onslaught heads for the Atlantic coast. Thirty-four counties in Florida are also under a state of emergency due to potential flooding.
Volusia and Palm Beach counties announced mandatory evacuations of certain residents and areas on Tuesday.
Nicole is expected to strengthen into a Category One hurricane, defined by “very dangerous” winds of up to 95mph.
It will be the first hurricane to strike the US in November in almost 40 years.
Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald said: “Tropical Storm Nicole poses a direct threat to property and life.
“Residents need to take this storm seriously.”
Orlando International Airport plans to shut down at 4pm on Wednesday, while airports in Sanford and Melbourne will also close.
Airlines including American, Delta and Southwest are waiving change fees and cruise lines are adapting itineraries.
In a Tuesday news briefing, Palm Beach County Mayor Robert Weinroth announced evacuation orders for residents in zones A and B, which includes barrier islands, places prone to flooding and vulnerable structures.
More than 50,000 residents live in affected areas.
More than 20 county school districts called off classes for the week.
FOLLOW OUR MIDTERMS LIVE BLOG: Trump in ‘rear view mirror’ as Republicans wake up to results
Closures in the eastern half of the state stretch from St. Johns in the northern corner to Miami-Dade at the southern tip.
Counties including Brevard, Indian River and St. Lucie are advising residents to evacuate.
Indian River County spokesperson Kathy Copeland told weather.com: “We are going to do voluntary evacuations at this time based on the conditions.”
In the Bahamas, officials said on Wednesday more residents must move to shelters with Nicole set to strike.
Andrea Newbold, with the Disaster Management Unit for Social Services, said: “We are asking people to please take it (seriously). Don’t wait until the last minute.”
Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, who is at the COP27 UN Climate Summit, said he has mobilised all government resources as the storm nears.
He said: “There have always been storms, but as the planet warms from carbon emissions, storms are growing in intensity and frequency.”
Distracted’ GOP making ‘cake walk’ midterms tight
FBI warns of rideshare ‘trend’ criminals use to abduct children
Americans want Truss-style tax cuts according to new poll
At 7 am Eastern, the storm was 60 miles (100 kilometers) east northeast of Great Abaco Island and about 240 miles (385 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.
With maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kmh), the storm was moving at 13 mph (20 kmh).
The warnings in Florida cover the southwestern Gulf coastline which was devastated by Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm which struck on September 28.