There’s a new storm in the Atlantic, and it looks like it’s headed for Florida.
The National Hurricane Center said Subtropical Storm Nicole has formed and as of Monday morning was located about 520 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas.
Nicole is forecast to intensify, and it could be near or at hurricane strength when it nears the Bahamas on Wednesday. A tropical storm watch is in effect for some of those islands.
Nicole is expected to be a big storm that affects a wide area and could bring prolonged nasty weather to Florida and parts of the Southeast U.S.
“It’s not out of the question for Nicole to reach hurricane strength, especially given how warm the waters are in the vicinity of the Bahamas,” the hurricane center said Monday.
“It should be stressed, however, that no matter Nicole’s ultimate intensity, the storm’s large size will likely cause significant wind, storm surge, and rainfall impacts over a large portion of the northwestern Bahamas, Florida, and the southeastern coast of the United States during much of the upcoming week.”
The hurricane center said those in the central Bahamas, Florida, and along the southeastern coast of the United States should keep an eye on Nicole, because more watches will likely be required later today.
The official forecast path then takes Nicole toward the Florida peninsula. Nicole could make landfall on Florida’s east coast — anywhere from the Space Coast southward to near Fort Lauderdale — late Wednesday or early on Thursday.
Then it could cross the peninsula, briefly move into the Gulf, then cross back over Florida and be near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts by Saturday.
As of Monday the National Weather Service wasn’t expecting Alabama to feel any effects from Nicole, if the current forecast track stays the same.
As of 6 a.m. CST Monday, Subtropical Storm Nicole was located about 520 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas and was tracking north-northwest at 14 mph.
Nicole had 45 mph winds, making it a minimal subtropical storm. The hurricane center said gradual strengthening is expected, “and Nicole could be near or at hurricane intensity by Wednesday or Wednesday night while it is moving near the northwestern Bahamas.”
Nicole is a subtropical system, which means is has some of the characteristics of a tropical storm — but not all of them. Subtropical systems typically have much larger windfields than tropical systems, and subtropical storms can affect much wider areas.
The hurricane center noted on Monday that it’s possible Nicole could transition to a fully tropical storm in a few days, which means its worst winds would be confined to smaller area. However, that would also mean it could intensify faster.
Tropical storm winds and rain could reach the watch area in the Bahamas by Tuesday night or early Wednesday.
Nicole could bring 3 to 5 feet of storm surge to the northwestern Bahamas, as well as 2 to 4 inches of rain.