As Tropical Storm Nicole barrels toward Florida’s east coast, 12 state-managed campgrounds in Pasco, Citrus and Sumter counties will close at 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to an announcement by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
The district, which helps operate public lands for millions of Floridians across 16 counties, anticipates reopening the camping sites, trails and day-use areas by Friday afternoon, according to spokesperson Susanna Martinez Tarokh. The outdoor areas will reopen “following evaluation of site conditions” after the storm, according to the district.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Tropical Storm Nicole was about 400 miles east of West Palm Beach, churning west toward the Florida peninsula at 10 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was strengthening with 65 mph sustained winds Tuesday night and forecast to become a hurricane Wednesday.
The region around Tampa Bay could see one to two inches of rain, and counties farther to the north like Citrus and Hernando could see two to four inches, Mike Clay, a meteorologist with Spectrum Bay News 9, wrote in his midday advisory Tuesday. Tropical storm-force winds could reach the area by Wednesday night and peak wind gusts could be around 40 to 50 mph Thursday.