Miami: A Florida-bound storm strengthened into Hurricane Nicole on Wednesday evening as it pounded the Bahamas, and U.S. officials ordered evacuations that included former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
It’s a rare November hurricane for storm-weary Florida, where only two such hurricanes have made landfall since recordkeeping began in 1853 — the 1935 Yankee Hurricane and Hurricane Kate in 1985.
Nicole was expected to reach Florida late Wednesday or early Thursday with a storm surge that could further erode many beaches hit by Hurricane Ian in September before heading into Georgia and the Carolinas later Thursday and Friday. It was expected to dump heavy rain across the region.
Nicole’s center was about 75 miles (125 kilometers) east-northeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, late Wednesday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was moving west-northwest at 13 mph.
The sprawling storm became a hurricane as it slammed into Grand Bahama, having made landfall just hours earlier on Great Abaco island as a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
Nicole is the first storm to hit the Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm that devastated the archipelago in 2019.