- July 4, 2021
The Florida Highway Patrol reported that winds have diminished sufficiently to reopen the Sunshine Skyway bridge. It had closed earlier today when winds exceeded 50 mph.
The National Weather Service discontinued the region's tropical storm watch from the middle of Longboat Key south, though the coastline of Manatee County north to a point near Point St. Joe. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, sustained wind speeds stuck in the high 20s, reaching 32 mph in the 9 a.m. hour. Peak wind gust came in the 8 a.m. hour at 51 mph. About 1.35 inches of rain had fallen since midnight.
Florida Power and Light reports more than 5,000 customers in Sarasota County are without electricity, though about as many have already been restored. On its outage map web page this morning, FPL reported that of its 287,000 county homes and businesses, 5,010 were without power around 11 a.m. and 5,480 had been previously out but restored.
In Manatee County, 1,910 were out and 9,170 were restored.
Peak wind gusts at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport reached near 50 mph Thursday morning as Hurricane Nicole moved northwest through Central Florida.
At 6:53 a.m., the weather station at the airport recorded the highest hourly gust at 46 mph, with sustained winds at 29. An hour later, sustained winds were up to 30, with a high hourly gust of 43. Two other instances of 43 mph gusts were recorded in the early morning hours.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported at 7:18 a.m. that the Sunshine Skyway between Pinellas and Manatee counties was closed to both directions of traffic because of winds at 50 mph.
About an inch of rain has fallen at the airport since around midnight. Flights have departed from SRQ this morning, though at least two were delayed.
Nicole landed near Vero Beach around 3 a.m. as a Category 1 hurricane. By 7 a.m., the storm center was located about 50 miles east of Tampa, with winds of 60 mph.
Because of predicted wind gusts from Tropical Storm Nicole exceeding speeds for safe operations, Hurricane Ian debris operations in the unincorporated area of Sarasota County have been suspended effective immediately.
Likewise, the city of Sarasota also announced that debris collection within its borders would be suspended.
The county added:
Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources is canceling outdoor and athletics field reservations for tonight evening and Thursday.
Sarasota County’s Emergency Operations Center continues to monitor Tropical Storm Nicole. Sarasota County Government offices will be open normal business hours Thursday. As previously scheduled for Veterans Day, county offices will be closed Friday, Nov. 11.
Also, county transit options will be off the road on Thursday. Sarasota County Transit bus, SCATPlus, OnDemand and the Siesta Key Breeze trolley services will resume normal operations on Friday.
All School District of Manatee County schools will be closed Thursday. Manatee County is projected to have winds approaching 40 mph. Buses cannot run if sustained winds reach 35 mph.
Schools will continue to be closed on Nov. 11 in observance of Veterans Day.
Due to the 30-minutes added to each school day as a result of the 1-mill property tax referendum, students will not have to make up any time lost.
Sarasota County public schools will be closed on Thursday, a statement from the school district said. Normal class schedules are expected to resume on Friday.
The school district cited forecasts of winds 35 mph or greater in the county on Thursday in association with Tropical Storm Nicole, which was expected to intensify into a hurricane by landfall.
All Faiths Food Bank's planned turkey distribution set for this afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium has been delayed until Thursday, Nov. 17.
A second large-scale turkey distribution will take place at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 19.
Distribution at Venice Middle School has been postponed to 5-6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17 and Lamarque Elementary School has postponed its distribution until further notice.
Community members are encouraged to visit All Faiths Food Bank website for up-to-date distribution information. Thanks to funds raised through the annual ThankFULL campaign, All Faiths Food Bank expects to distribute 13,000 turkeys and 3.6 million holiday meals this year to the Sarasota community.
Manatee County opened Freedom Elementary School, located at 9515 State Road 64, at 10 a.m. Nov. 9 to serve as a "Safe Haven" shelter.
The pet-friendly shelter is open for residents who want to evacuate their homes voluntarily if they think their homes could be compromised as a result of damage from Hurricane Ian, according to a news release.
The shelter also is open for residents of mobile and manufactured homes.
"People know their homes," County Administrator Scott Hopes said. "If their roof or home sustained damage, we want to assure them there is a place for them to weather Tropical Storm Nicole."
A decision on whether the School District of Manatee County will close schools Nov. 10 will be made Wednesday.
Manatee County declared a state of emergency Nov. 8 as Tropical Storm Nicole approaches Florida.
Tropical storm force winds of 39 mph or more are likely to arrive in Sarasota and Manatee counties later Wednesday as Nicole builds in the Atlantic Ocean and closes the gap toward Florida's southeastern coast.
Nicole, with 70 mph sustained winds, was about 240 miles east of West Palm Beach this morning, heading west-southwest at about 13 mph. The National Hurricane Center's official forecast track shows the center of the storm landing around 1 a.m. Thursday, then moving northwest through the center of the state and emerging in the Gulf of Mexico just north of Tampa Bay.
Nicole, which is forecast to reach hurricane strength before landfall, has a broad field of wind, capable of delivering at least tropical storm force winds across most of the peninsula. In Sarasota-Manatee, the likelihood of the strongest winds builds from the coast toward inland areas.
Manatee and Sarasota counties are now under a tropical storm warning. The National Hurricane Center's storm surge outlook indicates the possibility of 1-3 feet from Anclote River to Englewood as the center of the storm approaches the Gulf coast, shifting winds around toward shore.
Officials with Sarasota County Schools said this afternoon that classes would go on as normal Wednesday, but all after-school activities must end at 5 p.m.
Tropical Storm Nicole remains headed for a landfall as a category one hurricane on the east coast of Florida early Thursday. Although getting better organized, the storm is still a broad system with winds of at least 39 mph extending hundreds of miles from the gathering center of circulation.
A National Hurricane Center forecast indicates 2-4 inches of rain possible in Sarasota-Manatee counties, and 30%-50% chances of tropical storm force winds, with the higher probabilities farther inland. A peak storm surge of 1-3 feet was possible from the Anclote River near Pasco County to the middle of Longboat Key, the National Hurricane Center said. Eastern Florida could see up to five feet.
Sarasota County, Sarasota County Schools, the city of Sarasota and the town of Longboat Key all posted statements Tuesday afternoon indicating officials are watching the storm's progress. Sarasota County Schools said further updates on potential schedule changes and closures would be made on Wednesday. Longboat Key officials also said updates were forthcoming on Wednesday morning.
Sarasota and Manatee counties are included in an expanded tropical storm watch that extends from Bonita Beach in Southwest Florida to a point south of Tallahassee in connection with developing sub-tropical storm Nicole.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center now predict a Category 1 hurricane landing along the East-Central Florida Coast early Thursday, though farther north than predicted earlier this week.
Sarasota and Manatee counties are on the southern periphery of the official cone of concern, though forecasters say Nicole's broad wind field and rain shield could bring sloppy weather here by Wednesday. The National Hurricane Center predicts a 30%-50% chance of tropical storm force winds of 39 mph or more in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
Sarasota is among 34 counties in Florida under a state of emergency in advance of a possible hurricane landfall on the state’s Atlantic Ocean coast.
The National Hurricane Center’s official intensity and track forecast indicates a Category 1 storm approaching the coast near Fort Lauderdale late Wednesday, then moving northwest toward the inland Tampa Bay are throughout Thursday.
The Hurricane Center predicts a near-50% chance of tropical storm force winds of at least 39 mph in the Sarasota-Manatee county region as early as Wednesday afternoon.
At 2 p.m. Monday, subtropical storm Nicole was located 465 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas, where a hurricane watch was posted. Along the east coast of Florida, hurricane watches were posted from near Daytona Beach south to Hallandale Beach, along with all of Lake Okeechobee. Tropical storm watches are posted along the east coast as well.
No watches or warnings have been posted on Florida’s west coast.
Sarasota County Emergency Management officials in a release said the county is monitoring the progress of Nicole, though the path remains uncertain.
No change in the county stance as far as debris cleanup from Hurricane Ian has been made.
“Sarasota County Emergency Management continues to actively monitor Subtropical Storm Nicole while Solid Waste staff diligently works with debris removal contractors to continue debris pickup as planned,’’ a spokesperson wrote. “Debris should remain at the curb. If the situation changes, we will share any updated information.’’
In declaring a state of emergency, Gov. Ron DeSantis urged residents to keep informed and ready to act if needed.
“While this storm does not, at this time, appear that it will become much stronger, I urge all Floridians to be prepared and to listen to announcements from local emergency management officials,” he said in a release. “We will continue to monitor the trajectory and strength of this storm as it moves towards Florida.”