Tropical Storm Nicole expected to hit Florida as Category 1 hurricane: Latest

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Tropical Storm Nicole is forecast to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday as it approaches Florida’s east coast.

The storm is expected to make landfall overnight Wednesday into Thursday between Fort Pierce and Melbourne.

PHOTO: Tropical Storm Nicole is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall early Thursday.

Tropical Storm Nicole is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall early Thursday.

ABC News

Parts of Palm Beach County and Volusia County are under evacuation orders and Orlando International Airport announced it will stop operations at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

At least 14 Florida school districts, including Broward, Orange, Pasco and Palm Beach counties, are closing schools on Wednesday and Thursday due to the storm. The closures are set to impact about 1.2 million students who attend those schools.

Nicole could also impact election week in the Sunshine State, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is running against Democratic rival Charlie Crist and Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., is trying to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for 34 of Florida’s 67 counties.

Meanwhile, Florida Power & Light has urged customers to prepare for power outages and activated its emergency response plan ahead of Nicole’s potential impact on the state this week.

“[Hurricane] Ian saturated soil and weakened trees in many parts of the state, so Nicole could cause trees to topple over and other vegetation and debris to blow into overhead power lines and equipment, which may cause outages,” Florida Power & Light chairman and CEO Eric Silagy said in a statement Monday.

PHOTO: A hurricane warning is in effect for much of Florida's west coast due to Tropical Storm Nicole. It is expected to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane before landfall.

A hurricane warning is in effect for much of Florida’s west coast due to Tropical Storm Nicole. It is expected to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane before landfall.

ABC News

Nicole formed in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean on Monday, becoming the 14th named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends this month. The storm’s center is expected to move near or over the Bahamas before heading to Florida, according to the National Weather Service.

When Nicole touches down in eastern Florida, cities may see flash flooding, with more than six inches of rainfall possible from West Palm Beach to Cape Canaveral.

NASA said it does not plan to move the Artemis 1 rocket off the launch pad in Cape Canaveral as a precaution. The unmanned rocket, which will travel to orbit the moon, is scheduled for launch Nov. 14. The launch has already been delayed several times, including by Hurricane Ian.

PHOTO: Storm surge from Nicole could reach 3 to 5 feet from West Palm Beach to Jacksonville, Fla.

Storm surge from Nicole could reach 3 to 5 feet from West Palm Beach to Jacksonville, Fla.

ABC News

The highest storm surge is expected from West Palm Beach to southern Georgia, where water could rise up to six feet.

A storm surge is also possible on Florida’s west coast, where Tampa could see water rise up to three feet.

Nicole will weaken as it moves north through Florida on Thursday, but heavy rain will continue to be a threat.

Nicole will then drop heavy rain in the Carolinas, mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Rainfall of three to four inches is possible from Raleigh, North Carolina, to New York to Boston on Friday into Saturday morning.

ABC News’ Max Golembo, Kenton Gewecke, Melissa Griffin, Darren Reynolds, Samantha Wnek and Ginger Zee contributed to this report.