Rare November Hurricane Nicole Washes Ashore with Widespread Coastal Destruction
Conditions improve across Florida by tomorrow as the destructive 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season looks to finally wind down in the weeks ahead
Hurricane Nicole swept ashore east-central Florida during the overnight hours, making landfall just south of Vero Beach around 3 AM ET as a Category 1 hurricane, becoming only the fourth November hurricane to strike the mainland U.S. on record and the first November hurricane to hit Florida’s peninsula in 87 years.
Widespread coastal flooding and significant beach erosion was reported along nearly all of Florida’s Atlantic coast on Wednesday and Thursday. Large and destructive waves aggravated coastal woes, with water running through roads like rivers and shoreline structures – from piers to homes – facing major damage and destruction in the face of powerful surf.
Storm tide flooding was the highest observed since 2017 in Miami-Dade County and the fourth highest coastal flood event since the present installation of the Virginia Key tide gauge in 1994. Moderate flooding at the Fort Lauderdale coastal gauge was the highest observed since at least 2018.
Farther up Florida’s coast along its badly damaged Space Coast, major coastal flooding was observed with Thursday morning’s high tide, with the NOAA tide gauge at Trident Pier at Port Canaveral, about five miles north of Cocoa Beach, hitting its third highest water level on record, falling only 0.3 feet shy Hurricane Jeanne in 2004, a Category 3 storm which made landfall about 30 miles south of Nicole.
Major coastal flooding stretched northward along Florida’s First Coast and southeast Georgia on Thursday morning as well.
The tide gauge at Fernandina Beach, some 200 miles north of where Nicole came ashore and whose records extend back to the late 1800s, recorded its third highest water level on record, behind only Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and the Great 1898 Georgia Hurricane, Georgia’s strongest recorded hurricane.
Though Nicole’s storm surge peaked at nearly 6 feet around the time of landfall some hours before daybreak when the normal astronomical tide was low, a strong and persistent onshore flow kept the storm surge high – albeit at roughly half its peak – through the morning high tide shortly after dawn Thursday.
The size of Nicole – from its 300-plus mile stretch of tropical storm winds to its radius of maximum winds that doubled that of typical hurricanes – was largely responsible for the battering waves and high waters that caused widespread coastal flooding and beach erosion through multiple high tide cycles reminiscent of a powerful nor’easter. A buoy only 20 miles off Cape Canaveral recorded significant wave heights (highest of the average one-third waves) as high as 32 feet overnight, with individual waves likely topping 40 or 50 feet.
Sustained winds measured by coastal land stations and offshore buoys largely remained below hurricane force (74 mph), but winds gusted to 84 mph at a WeatherSTEM station in Daytona Beach shortly after 4 AM ET and to near hurricane force at a buoy east of Cape Canaveral at around 2 AM ET. Inland, Nicole brought upwards of 4 to 7 inches of rain to parts of the Treasure Coast, Space Coast, and inland into central Florida, but its northern track spared South Florida widespread inland flooding issues.
Though coastal issues will continue through today, conditions will improve come tomorrow for Florida as Nicole accelerates into the Appalachians. On Sunday, another fall front will clear South Florida, cranking up the deep layer of protective wind shear that usually protects us from hurricanes this time of year, while the Atlantic looks to finally go dormant as hurricane season winds down in the weeks ahead.
I lived in Michigan and often went to Canada, love it there. I think I have been to Niagara about 40 times and used to go to Toronto and Stratford even more frequently. Toronto sometimes up to 20-30 times a year, sometimes just day and evening trips then driving back with snooze breaks at each rest stop down 401. Windsor was just across the river so was there a lot to go to dinner, book stores and later the casino. Got pissed as hell when Bush made it so we had to have a passport, before that our driver's license was adequate
Mike, you may be correct about a hurricane hitting Florida in 87 years, which would be the so-called "Yankee" hurricane of 1935; but Kate was a tropical storm that hit in 1985, as you know. Yes, that is quite a feat, that a hurricane came to Florida in November, and November 10th is the latest record date for a hurricane making landfall from the EAST, breaking the November 4th, 1935 "Yankee" storm near Miami Beach. Today is also, speaking of 50-foot waves, now that you mentioned it, today is the anniversary of the infamous "Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" storm that sank that great ship. I am not sure of the individual wave heights that day; they COULD have approached 50 feet. That gale center had its' own hurricane-force gales and prompted flash flood watches, a high wind warning, a tornado watch all for Central New York through 5 P.M. and a band of cold front thundershowers in the afternoon; it was a windy, muggy 70 degrees. The high wind warning was till midnight. It was a storm for the weather annals, that's for sure. Maybe you might remember that storm, Laura.