#Nicole Update, Wed. 9 Nov 2022

TLDR: some damage in Florida, two blustery days with the potential for shallow coastal flooding right on the coast in GA/SC – think nor’easter – but nothing dangerous. Here’s the details:

As of this morning Nicole has finally gained enough tropical characteristics to be declared a tropical storm, but is still isn’t really very tropical. The winds are just below hurricane force, but the tropical storm winds are extensive, extending nearly nearly 400 miles to the north of the center of the storm. Here is a link to the Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Nicole (en Español: Mensajes Claves), and the impact swath from my TAOS/TC model:

click to embiggen.

Nicole will likely have an area of hurricane force winds when it hits Florida. Right now the thinking is the storm will lose tropical characteristics quickly. Still, given the residual damage from Ian, likely economic impacts will be in the $2 Billion USD range. The track guidance is fairly tight until landfall, but the speed of the turn might technically take the storm back over the Gulf although it won’t help it regain strength. Again, this is a big storm, so the track (and NHC’s “cone of shame”) don’t matter so much. Fee free to ignore anyone who even mentions the cone other than to say don’t use it (like that guy on local radio in Savannah who was jibbering incoherently about it this morning).

For the Georgia/South Carolina coast, there are three factors. The first is the wind, which probably won’t be that bad even though we are on the “strong” side of the storm. Just a blustery couple of days, maybe some scattered power outages. The trees are already “hunkering down” for fall/winter, so they are less likely to drop limbs although a few aren’t out of the question. Weak tornadoes/water spouts are possible on this side of the storm, so keep your weather radio armed. The second factor, for those right on coast, is that tides will run well above normal the next two days due to high onshore winds, on the order of two to three feet. At Fort Pulaski, the forecast for the tides this morning and tomorrow are for between 10 and 10.5 feet, which is the moderate flood stage. We should stay below 10.5 feet. What that means in the real world is …

At 9.5 ft MLLW, minor coastal flooding occurs. Flooding will begin to impact Shipyard Road to Burnside Island. Parts of Ft Pulaski National Monument will begin to flood, including several trails. Flooding will also begin to impact Tybee Island including Catalina Dr and Lewis Ave. In Bryan County, water could breach docks near Ft McAllister and flooding will impact portions of Mill Hill Rd. In Liberty County, flooding impacts the Halfmoon Landing area and Cattle Hammock Rd near Bermuda Bluff subdivision. At 10.0 ft MLLW, moderate coastal flooding occurs. Shipyard Rd will be impassable, isolating residents on Burnside Island. Water will start to encroach on HW-80 and as the tide gets closer to 10.5 ft MLLW, could begin to cover portions of the roadway. Flooding will expand on Tybee Island and Catalina Dr and Lewis Ave will be impassable. Flooding will also impact Wilmington Island, the Coffee Bluff community, Ossabaw Island, Sapelo Island, and portions of HW-17 south of Darien. At 10.5 ft MLLW, major coastal flooding occurs. Damaging flooding is expected, expanding along the entire southeast Georgia coast. Flooding will likely cause the closure of HW-80, isolating residents on Tybee Island. Several other island communities will also likely become isolated due to flooded and impassable roadways. On Tybee Island, widespread significant flooding is expected with numerous properties impacted.

From NWS WSFO Charleston flood stage guide

Rain is the other factor. There is some potential for “training” – embedded rain cells to line up and dump on one spot for long periods of time. Those spots might get a lot of rain and some localized flooding. But on the plus side it’s a fast moving system. Here is the rain total forecast for the next five days. It doesn’t look so bad at this point:

As for timing, conditions will deteriorate across the GA/SC coast today from south to north, dry most of the day with rain moving in tonight after sunset. Using Savannah as the reference, winds should pick up after noon today, and stay gusty until after noon Friday. I’m not seeing a distinct “peak” of the winds, given the expected organization of the storm. By sunset Friday it should all be over. If you live south of Savannah like Brunswick, things will happen a few hours earlier; if north (Beaufort/HHI) a few hours later.

So all in all, if in Central Florida you should be wrapping up preparations for a minimal hurricane. Everywhere else should prepare for a blustery day that will feel more like a nor’easter than a hurricane. Inconvenient, but not really hazardous outside localize street flooding and right on the coast. Right on the water, if you flood with tides 2-3 feet above normal, be ready for that at the morning high tides Thursday and Friday.

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