Just as Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on the United States last week, tropical storm Nicole was getting organized to the east. After a bout of rapid intensification yesterday, the storm is now a major hurricane, and it’s closing in on Bermuda, which could see a direct hit in just a few hours.
Packing maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph), Nicole has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm in the latest National Hurricane Center advisory, after becoming the island nation’s first Category 4 threat in nearly 80 years last night. Despite gradually weakening, Nicole is still “extremely dangerous,” with the expectation that this storm will remain a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) as it passes Bermuda. The storm is currently located about 55 miles (85 km) to the southwest.
It’s unclear whether the hurricane-prone nation is in for a direct hit from the storm’s eye wall, which would bring the most devastating impacts, or a near miss. Either way, the National Hurricane Center advises that Bermuda should prepare for storm surges of up to 8 feet, “large destructive waves” and up to 8 inches of rainfall through the evening.
After brushing Bermuda, Nicole will continue its trek into the north Atlantic, eventually weakening to a post tropical cyclone. While there’s little chance of a US impact, swells from the storm could create dangerous rip currents from the Carolinas north into the weekend, the National Hurricane Center warns.
Despite getting far less popular attention than Hurricane Matthew’s deadly rampage through the Caribbean last week, Nicole is no trifle. Already, it’s broken a handful of hurricane records, as tropical cyclone expert Phil Klotzbach noted on Twitter last night:
We’ll check back in on this dangerous storm later today. As always, you can keep up with the Nicole in real-time by visiting the National Hurricane Center, which issues updates on the storm’s track and intensity every three hours. You can also keep an eye out for the latest satellite imagery from NOAA and NASA here, here, here, and here.