Our live updates for Wednesday have concluded. A new live updates was posted early Thursday morning to give you all of the latest information you need to know. You can find it here.
Nicole strengthened into a hurricane on Wednesday night as it edged toward a landfall with Florida’s east coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.
If Nicole remains a hurricane when it comes ashore in Florida, it will be the second-latest hurricane landfall to the continental United States in recorded weather history. The latest has been Hurricane Kate, which made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Nov. 22, 1985.
Nicole is expected to bring tropical storm-force winds and up to 4 inches of rain to the Tampa Bay area.
Here’s what to know about the storm:
Florida’s east coast already is feeling strong effects from Hurricane Nicole as the storm approaches the United States. Videos posted to Twitter from the Daytona Beach area show rising Atlantic Ocean waters causing erosion damage to buildings along the coastline. The National Hurricane Center predicts much of the east coast of Florida could see between 3 feet to 5 feet of storm surge.
The start of the Pelican Women’s Championship, an LGPA event set to take place this week in Belleair, has been pushed back to Friday because of Hurricane Nicole, according to a statement from the LGPA.
The tournament now will begin Friday and will have three rounds instead of four.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded Tropical Storm Nicole to Hurricane Nicole, in a 6 p.m. update. In the update, the Hurricane Center said Nicole has made landfall on Grand Bahama Island. The storm is about 105 miles east of West Palm Beach.
A Hurricane Hunter aircraft observed winds sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, making the storm a Category 1 hurricane.
The city of Gulfport operations will remain open Thursday during Tropical Storm Nicole, according to a statement from the city.
“City of Gulfport Operations such as Sanitation, Public Safety, the Building Department, Utilities, Public Works, and the Library will be active and performing normal activities on Thursday as the weather safely permits,” the city said in a statement. “All Recreation Center and Multipurpose Senior Center classes and activities including the Gulfport Extended Minibus Service program have been cancelled for Thursday.”
As Tropical Storm Nicole approaches, the wind is picking up around the Tampa Bay area and making for rough water. According to the National Hurricane Center, tropical storm-force winds are expected to reach Tampa Bay by Wednesday evening.
Pinellas County bus service is scheduled to remain open, but the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will halt service if the storm has sustained Tropical Storm Force Winds of 40 miles per hour.
”The safety of our drivers and passengers is always our top priority at PSTA. We are committed to providing service, as long as it’s safe to do so,” said Brad Miller, the agency CEO. “As we keep a close watch on Tropical Storm Nicole path, we will continue to send updates to keep our community informed.”
The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office announced that its offices will be closed Thursday. However, voters who need to resolve issues with provisional and mail ballots can still receive services at the Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center at 2514 N. Falkenburg Road and the Fred B. Karl County Center at 601 E. Kennedy Blvd.
Voters have until 5 p.m. Thursday to provide evidence of their eligibility to vote, after filling out a provisional ballot, or resolve issues with their signatures on their mail ballots.
All Largo city facilities will be closed Thursday until noon, with the reopening time subject to change, based on weather. Trash pickup is on hold Thursday due to the storm and on Friday due to Veterans Day.
The city of St. Petersburg plans to have facilities operate normally Thursday and the city council still is expected to meet, despite the storm. The city is rescheduling its outdoor Veterans Day ceremony to Dec. 9, however, according to a city news release.
Friday is Veterans Day, but due to potential impacts from Tropical Storm Nicole, the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System has moved its Veterans Day ceremony to Sunday, Nov. 13. The ceremony, which will be the first one held in person since 2019, will take place at the medical center, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd. in St. Petersburg, in the courtyard behind Building 37 at 11 a.m. About 600 people are expected to attend, and retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Martin R. Steele will be the guest speaker.
The federal courthouse in Tampa also will close tomorrow. Pinellas County courts will remain open Thursday, said Ashli Doss, communications coordinator for the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Dan Sullivan and Natalie Weber, Times Staff Writers
Red Tide was found this week in the waters off Anna Maria Island, and now experts fear Tropical Storm Nicole could possibly make conditions worse for Tampa Bay.
Extra runoff from rainfall could mean more algal-bloom-fueling nutrients dump into the bay. That may — or may not ― spark more Red Tide.
“Of course our eyes are on any additional rainfall and runoff that might occur in response to Tropical Storm Nicole’s passage,” said Ed Sherwood, executive director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. “With Red Tide now present in lower Tampa Bay, additional nutrient loads may exacerbate the bloom if salinities remain high.”
--Max Chesnes, Times Staff Writer
The Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office will be closed due to Tropical Storm Nicole on Thursday and Veteran’s Day on Friday.
“For the safety of our employees and for residents of Hillsborough County we are closing our offices on Thursday based on recommendations from local emergency officials,” Tax Collector Nancy Millan said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor this storm and ask everyone to heed the warnings and continue to be safe.”
Pasco Department of Health Offices also announced closures Thursday due to the storm, as well as Friday in observance of Veteran’s Day.
“The Florida Department of Health continues to coordinate with local emergency managers on resource requests and is on-site at the State Emergency Operation Center in Tallahassee responding to Tropical Storm Nicole. For medical emergencies, please dial 911,” the county said in a news release.
--Amy Gehrt, Times Breaking News Editor
Forecasters with the National Weather Service of Tampa Bay said the area could see winds ranging from 58 mph to 73 mph. They encouraged locals to wrap up storm preparations and avoid wandering into areas experiencing reverse storm surges.
DeSantis expanded the state of emergency for Tropical Storm Nicole to include 11 additional counties, including Pinellas and Hernando, the News Service of Florida reported.
The Clearwater Aquarium said it plans to remain open Thursday and Friday “and is on standby to assist our stranding network partners across the state of Florida.”
Most of Saint Leo University’s campuses will be closed Thursday, the school announced, including its University Campus in St. Leo, and its locations in East Pasco, Tampa, the MacDill Air Force Base, Ocala, Lake City, Jacksonville and the Naval Station Mayport.
Night classes for these locations on Wednesday will be held online.
Pinellas County Schools canceled classes and extracurricular activities Thursday. Normal schedules will resume Friday.
“Bridges may be closed during the morning commute hours, and Pinellas may experience localized power outages,” the district said in a statement. “Although meteorologists do expect our area to clear in the afternoon, morning weather conditions may not allow students and staff to travel safely.”
--Marlene Sokol, Times Staff Writer
Hillsborough officials announced that all county libraries, parks, preserves and recreation centers will be closed. Public meetings are postponed and a greenways open house scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday will be rescheduled.
Garbage, yard waste and recycling pickup will be paused Thursday and resume Friday.
County offices and most facilities will continue to be closed Friday in observance of Veterans Day. All parks, including dog parks, skate parks, nature preserves, trails, splash pads and boat ramps are scheduled to reopen.
--C.T. Bowen, Times Staff Writer
Busch Gardens announced that it will be closed Thursday, along with SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica Orlando, which is also closed Wednesday. Tickets intended for use on the park closure dates have been extended through Dec. 31.
Universal Orlando Resort will close Wednesday at 5 p.m., though resort hotels will remain open. The park said it anticipates a phased reopening Thursday.
--Chris Tisch, Times Senior News Editor, and Kelly A. Stefani, Times Staff Writer
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced that city offices will be closed Thursday. Trash pickup service will also be suspended from Thursday through Monday.
“I encourage everyone to review their disaster supply kits, and ensure they have supplies including medicine, water and non-perishable food,” Castor said in a statement. “The city of Tampa will continue to monitor the path and trajectory of the storm. We remain in constant contact with all state and local government partners.”
--Charlie Frago, Times Staff Writer
Pasco County officials declared a state of emergency and said it would open the Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter in Hudson at 7 p.m. The shelter is located at 11611 Denton Ave. No evacuations have been ordered at this time.
--Barbara Behrendt, Times Staff Writer
A University of South Florida Marine Science professor says Tampa Bay shouldn’t have to worry about major storm surge.
“Sea level will first go down, but not nearly as much as for Ian or Irma, followed by a rise,” said USF professor Yonggang Liu.
--Max Chesnes, Times Staff Writer
The Associated Press reports that residents are being asked to evacuate from barrier islands in Flagler, Palm Beach, Martin and Volusia counties. Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club is located in one of these zones. Security hung up when asked by the Associated Press whether the club would be evacuated.
Disney announced plans to start closing in phases at 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The park says on its website that theme parks “will likely not reopen” during their normally scheduled times Thursday morning.
Tropical Storm Nicole made landfall on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas with wind speeds of about 70 mph, according to an 11:55 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center. The storm’s wind speeds are just 4 mph shy of a Category 1 storm.
--Michaela Mulligan, Times Staff Writer
The University of South Florida announced it will transition to remote-only classes on Thursday. Exceptions include USF Health clinical operations, USF Health student clinical rotations, medical school classes, USF Athletics teams and staff as determined by the director of athletics and essential or critical personnel.
--Aya Diab, Times Staff Writer
The 13th Judicial Circuit announced that it will close courts on Thursday. Pinellas and Pasco courts do not yet have any plans to close Thursday, according to spokesperson Steve Thompson.
Tampa International Airport also announced plans to stay open.
--Dan Sullivan, Natalie Weber and Bernadette Berdychowski, Times Staff Writers
Pinellas County Schools pledges to release a decision by 4 p.m. Wednesday on whether schools will remain in operation Thursday.
“Pinellas County Schools is in constant communication with Pinellas County Emergency Management to monitor Tropical Storm Nicole, including forecasted wind speeds, rainfall and flooding, and impacts to our roadways and transportation,” the district said in a Tweet.
--Thomas C. Tobin, Times Education Editor
Water recedes out of the Tampa Bay ahead of Tropical Storm Nicole. Ahead of hurricanes and major storms, the bay sometimes experiences “reverse storm surge” that is caused by storm winds pushing water out of the bay. Before Hurricane Ian, officials warned that it is extremely dangerous to walk on the emptied shores of the bay.
--Matt Cohen, Times Staff Writer
Hillsborough County announced that it will open an emergency evacuation shelter at noon Wednesday, located at Erwin Technical College, 2010 E. Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa.
The shelter is intended for those who have concerns about staying in their homes during the storm, including people who rely on electricity for their medical needs or those who live in manufactured homes. The shelter is accepting pets, but they must be kept in a carrier or on a leash.
The county declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning, but has not ordered any evacuations.
--C.T. Bowen, Times Staff Writer
Hillsborough County announced that it would be closing schools on Thursday in anticipation of tropical storm Nicole. Pasco schools had previously announced that they would also close schools on Thursday due to the storm. Pinellas County has not announced whether it will close its schools.
--Marlene Sokol, Times Staff Writer
In its morning update, the National Hurricane Center says the east coast of Florida is already experiencing tropical storm conditions. The west coast of Florida is expected to experience storm conditions Wednesday night. The storm is expected to make landfall on Florida’s east coast as a Category 1 Hurricane by Wednesday night.
Spectrum Bay News 9 forecasts that the Tampa Bay area will see its strongest winds — up to 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 50 mph — by late Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Most areas in Tampa Bay will get about two to four inches of rain, but higher amounts are possible, according to Bay News 9.
Hernando County announces that it will close schools on Thursday due to storm conditions from Nicole. Pasco-Hernando State College will also close.
--Michaela Mulligan, Times Staff Writer
• • •
2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.
FORECAST: The ‘cone of uncertainty’ can be confusing. Here’s how to read it.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN A SHELTER: What to bring — and not bring — plus information on pets, keeping it civil and more.
WHAT TO DO IF HURRICANE DAMAGES YOUR HOME: Stay calm, then call your insurance company.
PREPARING FOR A HURRICANE: Make a plan, listen to experts, and know there’s help available if you need it.
DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits
• • •
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INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.