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Massive Hurricane Nicole was dumping rain on Florida Wednesday night as the storm bore down on the east coast of the Sunshine State, threatening to bring damaging winds and heavy precipitation to some places still recovering from Hurricane Ian.
Earlier the storm battered the Bahamas while strengthening from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane.
The eye of Nicole is expected to make landfall on the Florida coast late Wednesday or early Thursday, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Nicole is on a path to be the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States in November in nearly 40 years.
Here are the latest developments:
• Nicole has sustained winds of up to 75 mph after passing over the Bahamas.
• Tropical storm-force winds extend up to 485 miles from Nicole’s center, the hurricane center said. The enormous wind field – wider than that of stronger Ian on its Florida approach – means nearly the whole state will feel winds of 39 mph or greater from Nicole.
• More than 5.3 million people are under hurricane warnings and 4.1 million are under a hurricane watch.
• Around 3 to 8 inches are possible from the northwestern Bahamas to the eastern, central and northern portions of Florida. About 2 to 6 inches are expected from parts of the US southeast to the southern and central Appalachians and western mid-Atlantic through Friday, the hurricane center said.
• Coastal water levels could rise by as much as 6 feet above normal tide in the northwestern Bahamas, and up to 5 feet from Florida’s North Palm Beach to Georgia’s Altamaha Sound. Up to 4 feet of surge is possible to the south and north of that range, including through parts of South Carolina’s coast.
• Evacuations have been ordered. In some cases authorities say the buildings are unsafe, as 22 homes in Volusia County and some condo buildings in New Smyrna Beach were deemed.
• The St. John’s River, which flooded in some areas after Hurricane Ian, was approaching major flood stage near Astor and moderate flood stage near DeLand.
CNN meteorologist Haley Brink and CNN’s Joe Sutton, Aya Elamroussi, Denise Royal, Leyla Santiago, Jason Hanna contributed to this report.