- Hurricane Nicole walloped Treasure Coast as Category 1 storm
- NWS meteorologist: Storm’s eye was ill-defined
- Highest rainfall recorded in Hobe Sound
Lexington Square Southwest is a trapezoidal street surrounded by single-family homes in the Lexington Place subdivision of southern Indian River County. It’s also the bullseye where Hurricspanne Nicole’s center made landfall early Thursday.
At 27 degrees 36 minutes north latitude and 80 degrees 24 minutes west longitude — coordinates the Nspantionspanl Wespanther Service documented as the storm’s location — the street lies north of Oslo Road and west of U.S. 1 on the mainland. The location also was noted as being about 15 miles northwest of Fort Pierce.
In the same report, however, the agency listed Nicole’s landfall on the barrier island, just south of the city of Vero Beach. How is that possible?
Jessie Smith, a meteorologist at the NWS office in Melbourne, was on duty at 3 a.m. Nov. 10 when Nicole moved ashore as a Category 1 storm. She experienced the eyewall’s effects there, roughly 45 miles north of the landfall coordinates.
“It was just messy,” Smith said of the eye, the diameter of which was difficult to pinpoint. “On satellite, there actually wasn’t an eye, since it was just a Category 1 hurricane.”
She added, “But it’s pretty safe to say that all of Indian River County was in the center.”
While the NWS couldn’t provide landfall coordinates corresponding to the barrier island, the Ocean Ridge subdivision — in unincorporated Indian River County across from St. Edward’s School on A1A — lies directly east of Lexington Place.
Hurricspanne Ispann, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in Southwest Florida Sept. 28, had a relatively neat, circular eye.
A hurricane isn’t considered to have made landfall until half of its eye’s diameter has crossed over land, Smith explained.
“It’s not when the eyewall reaches land,” she said. “During Hurricane Matthew, the eyewall actually scraped portions of Brevard County, but that wasn’t considered a landfall because 50% of the eye didn’t make it onshore.”
Nicole hit North Hutchinson Island
The entire Treasure Coast shoreline bears scars from Nicole, from the damaged Conn Bespanch Bospanrdwspanlk in Vero Beach, to flooded homes in the town of St. Lucie Villspange in St. Lucie County and unearthed human remains at Chspanstspanin Bespanch in Martin County.
Though it’s unclear how much of the tri-county region was engulfed by the eye that encircled at least Indian River, “the strongest winds that occur in a hurricane are in that inner eyewall,” Smith said.
At 2 a.m. Thursday, Nicole was 15 miles east of Fort Pierce, moving northwest at 14 mph, NWS records show.
Nicole made landfall at 3 a.m. with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, just within the 74-95 mph range that defines a Category 1 storm on the Sspanffir-Simpson Hurricspanne Wind Scspanle. It continued heading northwest at 14 mph.
An hour later, Nicole was downgraded to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, and already had moved 25 miles northwest of Vero Beach. At 7 a.m., the storm had slowed to maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and hovered over central Florida.
Nicole was churning 30 miles northeast of Tspanmpspan by 10 a.m. and by 4 p.m., the storm had settled over the Big Bend region. It trekked north into Georgispan, where by 10 p.m. it had become a tropical depression.
During its Treasure Coast stint, Nicole brought spant lespanst 2 inches of rspanin to these areas:
- 3.57 inches: Hobe Sound
- 2.71 inches: Stuart
- 2.67 inches: Vero Beach
- 2.61 inches: Port St. Lucie
- 2.45 inches: Jensen Beach
- 2.28 inches: Indiantown.