HOUSTON – Hurricane Nicole was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday after slamming into Florida's east coast as a Category 1 storm, but not before leaving at least four people dead and causing a path of destruction.
Nicole made landfall just south of Vero Beach with winds of 75 miles per hour (120 km. per hour), destroying homes and buildings, flooding the coastline, and leaving more than 335,000 residences and businesses without electricity.
Two people died when they were “electrocuted by a downed power line” while driving their vehicle, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
“We are urging all of our residents and visitors to use extreme caution if they are outside in the wake of the storm today,” the sheriff's office said in a release. “Never touch a downed power line. If you are driving and see a downed power line, change directions immediately.”
The Florida Highway Patrol said two more people were killed in a storm-related vehicle crash. Authorities said the driver of a pickup truck lost control of the vehicle on Florida's Turnpike and struck the driver of a tow truck who was standing behind his parked vehicle. Both drivers died in the crash.
Nicole is the first hurricane to hit the US in the month of November in nearly 40 years.
The storm is expected to weaken to a tropical depression early Friday and become a post-tropical cyclone.
The National Hurricane Center said that up to eight inches of rain could drench eastern, central, and northern portions of Florida through Saturday, causing more flooding.
Flooding is also possible through the southeast US and the central Appalachians, extending northward through eastern Ohio, west-central Pennsylvania and western New York on Friday night into Saturday. (Anadolu)