Nicole strengthens into hurricane, bears down on the Bahamas, Florida

Fresh off his reelection win Tuesday night, Governor Ron DeSantis warned Floridians not to take this storm lightly.

Florida prepares, braces for impact from Hurricane Nicole
Josh Einiger reports live from Florida as the state prepares for Hurricane Nicole to make landfall overnight.

JENSEN BEACH, Florida (WABC) -- More than a hundred miles away from Hurricane Nicole's expected track and almost an entire day before it reaches the Florida coast, homes are already sliding into the brink.

"Yesterday this property right here had a back yard of about 30 feet we lost 30 feet and then the rest of it collapsed this morning," Krista Goodrich said.

As Nicole picks up steam off shore the storm surge is already wreaking havoc on beaches and coastal communities still recovering from Hurricane Ian.

"We are forecasting it to become a hurricane as it nears the northwestern Bahamas and remain a hurricane as it approaches the east coast of Florida," Daniel Brown, a senior hurricane specialist at the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, said Wednesday.

South Florida communities like Boynton Beach were already seeing flooding Wednesday morning, well in advance of the storm.

Near Daytona Beach, the surf undermined delicate dunes, where homes started to slide into the sea before their owners' eyes.

"As we were moving furniture to get it away from the back of the house, we were watching the back yard just crumble," property manager Krista Goodrich said.

Fresh off his reelection win Tuesday night, Governor Ron DeSantis warned Floridians not to take this storm lightly.

He's already issued a state of emergency for nearly four dozen counties many of them already hard hit after Hurricane Ian.

By 6 p.m., Nicole had strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane and is expected to make landfall sometime Wednesday night not far from Palm Beach.

It's a rare November hurricane for storm-weary Florida, where only two hurricanes have made landfall since recordkeeping began in 1853 - the 1935 Yankee Hurricane and Hurricane Kate in 1985.

When it comes to wind, Florida can handle much worse than a Category 1 hurricane. But this storm isn't' just about the wind.

After the record amounts of water Hurricane Ian dumped six weeks ago, there is a lot of saturated ground that could contribute to downed trees, and in turn, could bring down wires.

There are 16,000 line workers pre-staged to deal with inevitable power problems as the storm churns across the state.

"This incoming storm is a direct threat to both property and life," said Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald. "A low category hurricane or even a tropical storm will cause more damage than usual due to the weakened infrastructure we have. If you were impacted with flooding from Hurricane Ian than you can expect to be impacted by this upcoming storm as well."

RELATED: See the latest information and updated track for Nicole

Residents in at least three Florida counties - Flagler, Palm Beach and Volusia - have been ordered to evacuate from barrier islands, low-lying areas and mobile homes. The evacuation orders went into effect Wednesday morning.

In advance of the storm, Palm Beach International Airport closed Wednesday morning, and Daytona Beach International Airport planned to cease operations at 12:30 p.m. Orlando International Airport, the seventh busiest in the U.S., was set to close at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Further south, officials said Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport were experiencing some flight delays and cancellations but both planned to remain open.

Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump's club and home, is in an area that is under a Palm Beach County evacuation order, sitting about a quarter-mile inland from the ocean. The main buildings sit on a small rise that is about 15 feet (4.6 meters) above sea level and the property has survived numerous stronger hurricanes since it was built nearly a century ago.

The resort's security office hung up Wednesday when an AP reporter asked whether the club was being evacuated. There is no penalty for ignoring an evacuation order, but rescue crews will not respond if it puts their members at risk.

Many school districts in Florida also canceled classes on Wednesday and Thursday.

Brown said the storm will affect a large part of the state.

"Because the system is so large, really almost the entire east coast of Florida except the extreme southeastern part and the Keys is going to receive tropical storm force winds," he said.

The storm is then expected to move across central and northern Florida into southern Georgia on Thursday, forecasters said. It was then forecast to move across the Carolinas on Friday.

Early Wednesday, President Joe Biden declared an emergency in Florida and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts to the approaching storm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is still responding to those in need from Hurricane Ian.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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