Nicole is thrashing the Bahamas and is forecast to strike Florida
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
People in Florida voted yesterday while also preparing for a storm. Tropical Storm Nicole is expected to strengthen and become a hurricane as it moves over warm water near the Bahamas today. The National Hurricane Center says Nicole is likely to hit Florida early tomorrow as a Category 1 storm. That is the weakest kind of hurricane, but still strong enough - 75 mile per hour winds. A bigger threat is the storm surge. NPR's Greg Allen has been following this storm, as he has many hurricanes in the past. Greg, good morning.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: OK, so amid the election results, which we're following throughout the morning, and Ron DeSantis winning re-election in Florida, what are you hearing about Nicole?
ALLEN: Well, this has been an unusual storm. It took a lot of people by surprise, starting as this disorganized depression in the Atlantic, then gaining strength as it moved toward the Bahamas. It's now likely to hit the Florida coast north of Palm Beach and then turn north. And it's going to bring a lot of rain and significant storm surge to much of this state before it moves into Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia by the weekend, all of which are likely to see some impacts.
INSKEEP: You have had so many terrible storms there. Do people shrug off a Category 1 at this point?
ALLEN: Right. Well, you know, this - I think that Hurricane Ian just in late September kind of got people really mobilized and thinking about storms more. That was a powerful Category 4 storm with winds over 150 miles per hour. This one is nothing close to that. And so local authorities are walking a line. They want people to prepare for, you know, possible power outages, maybe flooding, but they don't want to oversell the threat. In Palm Beach County, the mayor there said this week that we're built for this, reminding residents that building codes require structures to be able to withstand winds, you know, far higher than what we're going to see from Nicole. Forecasters and emergency managers are more concerned about the storm surge and the flooding from heavy rains, which can make the rivers rise and can...
ALLEN: ...Make flooding happen days later. Robert Weinroth, the mayor there in Palm Beach County, ordered mandatory evacuation for people yesterday in Palm Beach County. And he urged people to take that water seriously.
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ROBERT WEINROTH: We saw what happened in Lee County. There were people who stayed put because they felt that there was not an emergency. And a lot of those people regretted their decision.
ALLEN: You know, more than 50 people died there in Lee County in Hurricane Ian, and many of them were in the storm surge.
INSKEEP: OK, so what are the plans then for evacuations?
ALLEN: Well, some counties are ordering mandatory evacuations here. Others are just strongly recommending people evacuate from coastal areas. A Palm Beach County administrator, Verdenia Baker, told residents that they only need to evacuate a few miles to be safe from the storm surge.
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VERDENIA BAKER: Please take these mandatory evacuations seriously. If you want to evacuate and leave the area - the state, because this storm covers the entire state - now is the time to do it.
ALLEN: You know, there's really no need to leave the whole state. But if you've seen satellite pictures of Nicole or radar pictures, you know that it covers much of the southeast from south Florida all the way up to south - to North Carolina. And all those areas are going to see impacts, whether it's storm surge, beach erosion and flooding and some late in the week.
INSKEEP: Greg, I'm thinking about climate change. Fire season in much of the United States is much longer than it used to be. And here we are in November - November 9 - and looking at another hurricane. Isn't this rather late for a hurricane?
ALLEN: Definitely, Steve. And I think those people will be asking those questions and looking into this. Hurricane season doesn't officially until the end of this month, but we almost never see hurricanes this late in the year. The last time Florida saw one hit the state in November was in 1985. In recent years, though, we've seen tropical systems form before the official beginning of the hurricane season. We just hope that we're not going to be seeing more late-season storms like this one.
INSKEEP: NPR's Greg Allen, thanks as always.
ALLEN: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: And we're continuing to follow all the news on today's MORNING EDITION, including yesterday's election. Neither the House nor the Senate is decided at this hour. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.