A rare November hurricane caused widespread damage in Florida on Thursday, causing numerous homes to collapse into the ocean and forcing evacuations of dozens of hotels and high-rise condominiums.
Hurricane Nicole, which made landfall near Vero Beach as a Category 1 storm, was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm. But it nevertheless pummeled a large swath of Florida’s Atlantic coast with powerful waves and extensive beach erosion.
Officials declared 24 hotels and condos in Daytona Beach Shores and New Smyrna Beach structurally unsafe, forcing their evacuations.
“Structural damage along our coastline is unprecedented,” Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald said at a press conference late Thursday. “We’ve never experienced anything like this before.”
More than 300,000 power outages were reported.
Nicole appears to have resulted in at least five deaths. A man and a woman were fatally electrocuted by a downed power line, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said. Two other people were killed in a car crash on the turnpike near Orlando earlier Thursday.
In Cocoa, Fla., a 68-year-old man died as waves battered his yacht against a dock, police said. Paramedics tried to perform CPR on him as the boat broke away from its moorings and began to float away, but they could not resuscitate him.
Hurricanes are growing stronger due to climate change, as warmer air holds more moisture and warmer oceans provide more energy for high-speed winds.
Nicole was the first November hurricane to make landfall in Florida since 1985, and only the third since record-keeping began in 1853.
It came weeks after Hurricane Ian slammed into southwest Florida as a powerful Category 4 storm, killing more than 130 people, destroying thousands of homes and cutting a wide path of destruction across the peninsula.