Tropical Storm Nicole expected to make landfall in Florida as Cat 1 hurricane

Before Tropical Storm Nicole makes landfall on the east coast of Florida late Wednesday night, forecasters are now predicting it will strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane.

As of 10 a.m. on Wednesday, the storm is moving west at 12 miles per hour roughly 210 miles east of West Palm Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center

"While Nicole is over warm sea surface temperatures, a combination of shear of dry air entrainment is likely to allow only gradual intensification," said the NHC. "However, that gradual intensification should allow Nicole to become a hurricane later today while crossing the northwestern Bahamas."

The storm is expected to hit the east coast of the state with at least 74 mph winds, and slightly weaken as it moves across the peninsula, before turning northwest on Thursday.

Between late Wednesday and Thursday morning, forecasters say the Tampa Bay area will experience winds from 30-40 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph,  along with 3-5 inches of rain.

"Nicole will produce heavy rainfall today into Thursday across the Florida Peninsula," added the NHC. "Flash and urban flooding will be possible across portions of the Florida Peninsula along with river rises on the St. Johns River."

Since most of Central Florida, are still well within the cone of uncertainty, local officials are urging residents to make final storm preparations by Wednesday afternoon.

This story originally appeared at Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
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