The National Hurricane Center reported at around 6 p.m. EST that Nicole had reached the requisite 75 miles per hour maximum sustained winds for the storm to reach Category 1 hurricane status, going off observations from a Hurricane Hunter aircraft.
Nicole is forecast to make landfall over eastern Florida early Thursday morning, but the far-reaching effects of the storm, including heavy rain, strong winds, and storm surge are already on the Sunshine State’s doorstep.
Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 34 counties on Monday. He said the state has 16,000 linemen staged, 600 guardsmen activated, and seven Urban Search and Rescue teams on standby to deploy. “The state is prepared to respond to this storm,” he said in a tweet Wednesday.
President Joe Biden has also approved a declaration of emergency for Florida, unlocking federal resources.
Mandatory evacuations have been established along some coastal areas, including in Palm Beach County, where former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort resides. Advisers told the Washington Post that the club is not open for business but Trump does not intend to leave.