Subtropical Storm Nicole forms, threatens Bahamas, US coast

MIAMI (AP) — Subtropical Storm Nicole has formed in the Atlantic Ocean, bringing threats of a “prolonged period of hazardous weather” to parts of the Bahamas and the southeastern coast of the United States, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the northwestern Bahamas, including Andros Island, New Providence, Eleuthera, Abacos Islands, Berry Islands, Grand Bahama Island, and Bimini, forecasters said.

At 5 a.m. Monday, the “sprawling” storm was located about 555 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas. It was about 555 miles (895 kilometers) east of the northwestern Bahamas, with maximum sustained winds at 45 mph (75 kmh), the hurricane center said in an advisory.

“It’s not out of the question for Nicole to reach hurricane strength, especially given how warm the waters are in the vicinity of the Bahamas,” the advisory said. “It should be stressed, however, that no matter Nicole’s ultimate intensity, the storm’s large size will likely cause significant wind, storm surge, and rainfall impacts over a large portion of the northwestern Bahamas, Florida, and the southeastern coast of the United States during much of the upcoming week.”

Forecasters advised those living in the central Bahamas, Florida, and along the southeastern coast of the United States to monitor progress of the storm. Additional watches will likely be required by later Monday, the advisory said.

The storm was expected to produce heavy rainfall across the northwestern Bahamas Tuesday through Thursday, impacting portions of Florida and other areas of the U.S. coastline mid-to-late week.

Large parts of Florida are still reeling from destructive Hurricane Ian, which slammed into the southwestern portion of the state in Sept. 28 as a strong Category 4 hurricane and dumped massive amounts of rain, causing flooding across central Florida.

A subtropical storm is a non-frontal low-pressure system that has characteristics of both tropical and extratropical cyclones. They tend to be large and have a larger wind field, extendung much further from their centers. Forecasters said in the advisory that the storm could possibly transition into a tropical system as it continues to develop.

The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30.

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