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Nicole forecast to make Florida landfall as a hurricane Wednesday night

As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, Tropical Storm Nicole is located east of the Bahamas moving westward at 13 mph. Tropical Storm force winds are expected to increase along the Florida Atlantic coast this morning and will continue spread across the Peninsula this afternoon and evening. Nicole is forecast to make landfall late this evening in SE Florida as a hurricane with winds up to 75 mph. Along with increasing winds through this evening, dangerous storm surge up to 5 feet is possible into the overnight hours.

Hurricane Warnings are still posted along the east-central Florida coast as well as Storm Surge Warnings for most of the coastline. Residents are highly encouraged to finish preparations as soon as possible, and stay sheltered during the storm.

Nicole will likely track across the central Peninsula Thursday morning then possibly move into the NE Gulf of Mexico Thursday afternoon with sustained winds up to 50 mph. Most of the Florida Peninsula is under Tropical Storm Warnings and will experience several inches of rain, local flooding, possible power outages, and isolated tornadoes during the day.

By Thursday evening, Nicole is forecast to move quickly through the Panhandle closer to Tallahassee with sustained winds up to 40 mph. Flooding rains are possible through the central and eastern Panhandle along with storm surge inundations up to 3 feet along the Big Bend Coast.

Nicole will be closely monitored and continuous updates will be provided today and all day Thursday until the storm and impacts finally move out of Florida tomorrow night. Unnecessary travel is highly discouraged during this time.

Jeff is the chief meteorologist for the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network and can be reached at jeffrey.george@ufl.edu or 352-294-1506.