Storm Nicole set to hit the Bahamas as a hurricane, with fear for people still living in flimsy motorhomes

9 November 2022, 09:05 | Updated: 9 November 2022, 09:25

Storm Nicole is set to hit the Bahamas on Wednesday
Storm Nicole is set to hit the Bahamas on Wednesday. Picture: Getty/Eumetsat

By Kit Heren

A major storm is close to reaching hurricane strength on Wednesday morning as it nears the Bahamas - with authorities worried about the safety of people still living in flimsy homes after a previous hurricane.

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A hurricane warning is in place for parts of the tropical island chain, including Grand Bahama Island and the Abacos, as well as for parts of southern Florida, as Tropical Storm Nicole grew in strength overnight.

Winds of up to 70mph are expected on land, as well as storm surges, according to the US National Hurricane Centre. The threshold for hurricanes are minimum sustained winds of 74mph.

Nicole's tropical force winds extend out 380 miles from the centre.

Storm Nicole approaching the Bahamas
Storm Nicole approaching the Bahamas. Picture: National Hurricane Center

Nicole would be the third storm to reach hurricane status in the Atlantic this month - equalling the record with 2001 for the most Atlantic hurricanes in November.

The centre of Nicole is expected to get to the northwestern Bahamas on Wednesday morning US time, moving over the islands by the afternoon. The storm will get to the east coast of Florida on Wednesday night or early on Thursday.

The storm is later expected to move northwards through Florida and into southern Georgia on Thursday and Thursday night.

The US National Hurricane Centre said on Wednesday morning: "Tropical storm conditions are beginning across the northwestern Bahamas, and hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area later today.

Hurricane Ian heads for Carolinas after pounding Florida

"Tropical storm conditions are also beginning along portions of the east coast of Florida, and hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area tonight or Thursday morning.

"Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area tonight and Thursday. Tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area along the west coast of Florida by tonight."

People in the Bahamas were getting ready for the arrival of the storm on Tuesday evening.

Eliane Hall, who works at a hotel in Great Abaco island, told the Associated Press that there were long queues at petrol stations and shops as people prepared for the storm's arrival.

Joe Biden warns there may be 'significant loss of life' as Hurricane Ian lands in Florida

"We just boarded it up," she said of the hotel, adding that people were "still affected" by the impact of Hurricane Dorian, which hit the Bahamas in 2019.

Local authorities said they were particularly worried about people living in about 100 motorhomes in Grand Bahama after Dorian destroyed their homes, and about the migrant community in Great Abaco's March Harbour.

The previous community of Haitian migrants was among the hardest hit by the 2019 storm given the large number of flimsy structures in which many lived.

Officials in the Bahamas opened more than two dozen shelters across the archipelago on Tuesday as they closed schools and government offices in Abaco, Bimini, the Berry Islands and Grand Bahama.

Read more: Hurricane Dorian devastates the Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian: Gales cause power cuts in Canada

Authorities warned that airports and seaports will close as the storm nears and not reopen until Thursday, and they urged people in shantytowns to seek secure shelter.

Communities in Abaco are expected to receive a direct hit from Nicole as they still struggle to recover from Dorian.

"We don't have time to beg and plead for persons to move," said Captain Stephen Russell, emergency management authority director.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 until November 30.

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