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Hurricane watch for Florida counties as subtropical storm Nicole approaches

Florida's east coast under hurricane watch
Florida's east coast under hurricane watch 00:20

Counties across the eastern coast of Florida are under a hurricane watch as subtropical storm Nicole moves closer to land on Monday, officials said. 

The storm is currently traveling northwest toward the Bahamas at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, which are expected to strengthen as it approaches the islands and then tracks toward Florida's Atlantic Coast, according to an advisory issued Monday afternoon by the National Hurricane Center. Nicole is expected to continue its path toward the Bahamas on Tuesday, and forecasts indicate the center of the storm will either move near or over the islands on Wednesday, the advisory said.

Officials anticipate that Nicole will approach Florida on Wednesday night, according to the hurricane advisory, which noted that a number of counties along the east coast should prepare for possible storm surges and hazardous wind conditions typically associated with tropical storms as early as Tuesday. 

The National Hurricane Center categorizes a subtropical storm as a cyclone with maximum sustained wind surface speeds of at least 39 mph, but forecasts suggest that subtropical storm Nicole could be a hurricane or close to it by the time it arrives in Florida, according to Monday's advisory.

The advisory established a hurricane watch for a vast section of Florida's east coast, spanning more than 200 miles from Volusia County, east of Orlando, to Hallandale Beach, which sits between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, in addition to Lake Okeechobe and the northwestern Bahamas. A storm surge watch beginning at Hallandale Beach applies to areas as far north as Altamaha Sound in Georgia, and a tropical storm watch is in effect for all counties between them without a hurricane warning.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Monday for 34 eastern counties potentially located along the storm's path. 

"While this storm does not, at this time, appear that it will become much stronger, I urge all Floridians to be prepared and to listen to announcements from local emergency management officials," said DeSantis in a statement. "We will continue to monitor the trajectory and strength of this storm as it moves towards Florida."

Counties across the west coast of Florida were recently hit by Hurricane Ian, which made landfall at the end of September as a powerful, and in some cases, deadly Category 4 hurricane that destroyed buildings and flooded neighborhoods as it moved through the state over the course of several days.

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