Florida officials are warning residents, including those hit by the devastating Hurricane Ian, that a tropical system could bring heavy rain and damaging winds this week.
The warning comes as Subtropical Storm Nicole formed in the southwest Atlantic about 555 miles northwest of the Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm, now packing stronger winds of 45 mph, is expected to make landfall in Florida by Tuesday afternoon.
Already, the US territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands They are under a flash flood watch until Monday evening, and a tropical storm watch is in effect for the northwestern Bahamas.
As the system builds, it will likely move toward Florida and the southeastern U.S. early this week, according to CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford.
“Regardless of development, heavy rainfall, coastal flooding, winds and tidal surges will affect eastern Florida and the southeastern United States,” Shackelford said.
Rainfall in the Sunshine State could range from 2 to 4 inches, with isolated amounts exceeding 6 inches, according to Shackelford.
Areas south of Tampa, some of which are still recovering from Hurricane Ian’s landfall in late September, could be drenched with 2 to 4 inches of rain. Orlando is also at risk of seeing 1 to 2 inches of rain, while areas south of Jacksonville could see 1 to 4 inches.
Ahead of the storm, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged residents on Sunday to take precautions.
“I encourage all Floridians to be prepared and make a plan if a storm does impact Florida,” DeSantis said in a news release. “We will continue to monitor the course and trajectory of Invest 98L and remain in constant contact with all state and local government partners.”
DeSantis stressed that residents should prepare for an increased risk of coastal flooding, high winds, rain, rip currents and beach erosion. “Wind gusts can be expected on Tuesday of next week along the east coast of Florida,” he added.
On Tuesday, which is Election Day, much of the Florida peninsula can expect windy conditions. Rain chances are expected to increase throughout the day in central and eastern cities such as Miami north to Daytona Beach and inland toward Orlando and Okeechobee.
“Conditions could worsen as early as Tuesday and persist into Thursday night/Friday morning,” the National Weather Service in Miami said. “Impacts in South Florida may include rip currents, coastal flooding, hazardous surf/sea conditions, flood precipitation, strong winds and waterspouts/tornadoes.”
Meanwhile, DeSantis said as the state continues to recover from Ian’s devastating destruction, officials are coordinating emergency management with local authorities in the state’s 67 counties.
The goal is to “identify resource gaps and implement plans that will allow the state to respond quickly and effectively” ahead of potential intensification of the storm system, the statement said.
Hurricane Ian made landfall as a powerful Category 4 storm along the west coast of the Florida peninsula, packing winds of nearly 150 mph. The storm killed at least 120 people in Florida, destroyed many homes and leveled small communities. Thousands of people were without electricity or water during the days of the race.
And while the exact forecast for the coming storm is still unclear, forecasters said confidence has increased that the storm system could develop into a tropical or subtropical depression over the next two days.
“The system could reach hurricane strength Wednesday and Thursday before approaching the northwest Bahamas and the east coast of Florida, bringing the potential for dangerous storm surges, damaging winds and heavy rainfall across parts of these areas.” has weather service he said