ATLANTA - Nicole was downgraded to a tropical depression as it crossed into Georgia late Thursday evening. The storm has completed its forecasted turn into the state brining gusty winds and heavy rains.
At 10 p.m., Nicole was 15 miles north of Tallahassee, Florida and about 206 miles south of Atlanta. Sustained surface wind speeds, which have been weakening since the storm made landfall in Florida earlier in the day, were at 35 mph.
A wind advisory is in effect across most of Georgia until 7 p.m. Friday with northeast winds potentially between 15 and 25 miles per hour. Gusts could reach up to 40 miles per hour. The intensity of the wind and direction will shift as the day progresses.
Expect rain totals between 1 and 3 inches depending on where in the state it is. Some areas could see higher localized rainfall.
A spin-up tornado cannot be ruled out on Friday as the storm passes.
A handful of school districts in north Georgia have opted to adjust their schedules or close entirely.
Along the Georgia coast, utility workers and Red Cross volunteers positioned crews so that they will be ready to respond to any damage. Tree damage and power outages are possible in areas covered by the Wind Advisory.
As of 10 p.m., just over 9,000 customers total in Georgia were without power according to Georgia Power and the Georgia Electrical Membership Corp.
Once the storm passes, expect cooler and dryer air to move in.
On Saturday, cold temperatures from lows in the 30s to the highs in the 50s are expected to set in and stay with us for at least a week. The FOX 5 Storm Team says Georgians could feel their first major freeze of the year during this time.
Nicole travel to Florida returning to norma
About two dozen flights daily from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport were impacted.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is waiving fees and fare difference for flights to and from cities impacted by Nicole if the flights are booked by Nov. 16 as long as it is a similar seat.
Southwest offers a similar waiver.
Travelers will want to check the status of flights to Florida through Friday before arriving at the airport.
Tropical Storm Nicole topples beachfront homes into ocean
Tropical Storm Nicole sent multiple homes toppling into the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday and threatened a row of high-rise condominiums in places where Hurricane Ian washed away the beach and destroyed seawalls only weeks ago.
"Multiple coastal homes in Wilbur-by-the-Sea have collapsed and several other properties are at imminent risk," Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a social media message. He said most bridges to the beachside properties had been closed to all but essential personnel and a curfew was put into effect.
Wilbur-by-the-Sea is an unincorporated community on a barrier island with only beachfront homes. Next door in Daytona Beach Shores, a strip of high-rise condominiums were evacuated ahead of Nicole’s landfall, and while they remained standing after the storm, their future depends on safety reviews.
County manager George Recktenwald said during a news conference that officials assessing damage had already identified nearly a dozen compromised structures in Daytona Beach Shores and Wilbur-By-The-Sea, and they expect to find more.
"Structural damage along our coastline is unprecedented," Recktenwald said. "We’ve never experienced anything like this before."
Officials said they didn’t know when residents could safely return to their homes in the barrier island communities.
The homeowners association at the Marbella condominiums in Daytona Beach Shores had just spent $240,000 to temporarily rebuild the seawall Ian destroyed in September, said Connie Hale Gellner, whose family owns a unit there. Live video from the building’s cameras showed Nicole’s storm surge taking it all way.
"We knew it wasn’t meant to stop a hurricane, it was only meant to stop the erosion," Gellner said. But after Nicole, the building’s pool deck "is basically in the ocean," Gellner said. "The problem is that we have no more beach. So even if we wanted to rebuild, they’ll probably condemn the building because the water is just splashing up against the building."
Nicole’s winds did minimal damage, but its storm surge was more destructive than might have been in the past because seas are rising as the planet’s ice melts due to climate change, said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer. It adds up to higher coastal flooding, flowing deeper inland, and what used to be once-in-a-century events will happen almost yearly in some places, he said.
"It is definitely part of a picture that is happening," Oppenheimer said. "It’s going to happen elsewhere. It’s going to happen all across the world."
A man and a woman were killed by electrocution when they touched downed power lines in the Orlando area, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said. Nicole also caused flooding well inland, as parts of the St. Johns River were at or above flood stage and some rivers in the Tampa Bay area also nearing flood levels, according to the National Weather Service.
The worst damage appeared to be along the coast in Volusia County. Krista Dowling Goodrich, who manages 130 rental homes in Wilbur-By-The-Sea and Daytona Beach Shores as director of sales and marketing at Salty Dog Vacations, had witnessed backyards collapsing into the ocean just ahead of the storm.
In the aftermath, the backsides of about seven colorful houses along Highway A1A had disappeared. One modern house was missing two bedrooms and much of its living room as water lapped below its foundations. On a partially collapsed wall, decorations spelled out "Blessed" and "Grateful." Goodrich burst into tears when she saw it.
"Half of the house is gone, but we did manage to get out family photos yesterday," Goodrich said. "It is overwhelming when you see this. These are hard-working people who got to this point in their lives and now they lose it all."
In Daytona Beach Shores, where beachfront bathrooms attached to the city’s Beach Safety Ocean Rescue building collapsed, officials deemed several multistory buildings unsafe and went door-to-door telling people to grab their possessions and leave.
"These were the tall high-rises. So the people who wouldn’t leave, they were physically forcing them out because it’s not safe," Goodrich said.
Nicole made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at about 3 a.m. Thursday near Vero Beach, but caused no significant damage there, officials said. Part of a fishing pier washed away in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, but the brunt of the storm hit north of its center. By 1 p.m., Nicole’s maximum sustained winds were down to 45 mph (70 kph) as it moved toward Tallahassee.
The rare November hurricane could dump as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain over Blue Ridge Mountains by Friday, the hurricane center said. Flash and urban flooding will be possible as the rain spreads into the eastern Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic, and New England through Saturday.
Nicole was the first hurricane to hit the Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm that devastated the archipelago in 2019. For storm-weary Floridians, it is only the third November hurricane to hit their shores since recordkeeping began in 1853.
All 67 Florida counties were under a state of emergency. President Joe Biden also approved an emergency declaration for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, ordering federal help for the tribal nation. Many Seminoles live on six reservations around the state. The tribe also owns the Hard Rock Cafe franchise, with several of its hotels and casinos in Nicole’s path.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a Thursday news conference in Tallahassee that about 333,000 customers were without power at mid-morning, about 2.9% of the state’s total. He said there were 17,000 electricity linemen ready to begin restoring power and that numerous other assets including rescue boats and vehicles will be deployed as needed.
"We’re ready and we have resources to respond to whatever post-storm needs may arise," the governor said.
Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort announced they likely would not open as scheduled Thursday. Almost two dozen school districts were closing schools and 15 shelters had opened along Florida’s east coast, the governor said.
Parts of Florida were devastated by Hurricane Ian, which struck as a Category 4 storm. Ian destroyed homes and damaged crops, including orange groves, across the state — damage that many are still dealing with — and sent a storm surge of up to 13 feet (4 meters) onshore, causing widespread destruction.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.