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Tropical Storm Nicole Is Headed For Florida: Airports Closing and Cruises Rerouting

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The National Hurricane Center issued a warning that tropical storm Nicole will likely become a hurricane by Wednesday and is making its way towards Florida’s east coast. Airports, theme parks and cruise lines are on alert or have implemented precautions with Orlando, Orlando Sanford, Melbourne and Daytona Beach International Airports all planning to suspend operations by Wednesday afternoon.

Orlando Airport Sign

Tropical storm Nicole began building in the Atlantic Ocean as a hybrid storm earlier in the week, but by Tuesday had formed into a tropical storm. Nicole is expected to move towards the islands of the Bahamas before strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane and then meeting Florida’s southeast coast by late Wednesday or early Thursday.  Its damage could also extend to Southwest Florida, which has already been devastated by Hurricane Ian.

AccuWeather reports that “a water level rise of 3-6 feet is forecast with locally higher levels, and that rise will occur not only on waters near where Nicole makes landfall along the central portion of the Florida east coast but in areas hundreds of miles farther north”

This is the second time in six weeks that Florida has had to brace for a potential hurricane and if Nicole makes landfall, it would be a rarity, since only one hurricane has ever made landfall after November in continental US, according to hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

Orlando Flooding

What Travel Has Been Disrupted So Far?

Multiple Florida airports have decided to close on Wednesday; Orlando and Orlando Sanford International Airports will be suspending operations at 4pm; Melbourne Orlando International Airport will be closing at 2pm; and Daytona Beach International Airport will be shutting earlier at 12.30pm.

Major airlines have issued travel alerts for multiple airports in the eastern Caribbean and Florida, stating that customers who were impacted by Nicole would be able to rebook airfares under certain conditions. Currently, American Airlines has listed 20 airports as a travel alert; United has listed 8; and Delta has listed 15. It is recommended to check your airline for the latest travel advisory.

Orlando Airport sign

Cruise lines have already reacted and altered itineraries. Both Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Liberty and Disney’s Wish skipped a planned visit to Nassau in the Bahamas and spent a day at sea instead. They will now be stopping in Cozumel, Mexico instead of their planned private cays.

Meanwhile Carnival Elation, Norwegian Getaway and Disney Dream all skipped their private island itineraries and opted for a day at sea or another destination. Royal Caribbean’s International’s Quantum of the Seas, which was headed to Florida via the Bahamas from New Jersey has redirected to Haiti.

Carnival Liberty

At the time of writing, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld had not made plans to close their theme parks but said they were monitoring the situation closely. Other attractions such as Central Florida Zoo and Brevard Zoo have decided to close Wednesday and Thursday as a precaution.

Walt Disney World

What Is Nicole’s Predicted Path?

Nicole is currently moving near or over the islands in the Bahamas today and will be approaching Florida’s east coast between West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral by late Wednesday or early Thursday, according to AccuWeather. It is advised by experts to not only consider the direct path as a point of impact, because a storm of this size can wreak havoc wide and can move through parts of the state for 48 hours.

“These things don’t have to be exactly right over the top of you to make it the worst night of the year for you,” said AccuWeather forecast operations director Dan DePodwin.

AccuWeather suggested that Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia and parts of the Northeast could also experience 2-4 inches of rain, with mountainous regions in the North Carolina and Virginia potentially experiencing flooding by Thursday evening or Friday.

At the time of writing a hurricane warning has been issued for a large portion of Florida’s east coast and the northwestern Bahamas, and a tropical storm warning has been issued for northwestern Florida coast and well as some of the Georgia coast.

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