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Rivers are at risk - again - this time from Tropical Storm Nicole

Residents of DeSoto County in Florida survey the flooded Peace River after Hurricane Ian
Quil Lawrence
Residents of DeSoto County in Florida survey the flooded Peace River after Hurricane Ian.

Rivers such as the Peace River overflowed after Hurricane Ian, and are expected to be impacted once again as Nicole approaches Florida.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the greater Tampa Bay area as Nicole approaches. Places that were inundated from Hurricane Ian should be prepared for more heavy rainfall.

Inland areas are expected to get as much as 6 inches of rain from Nicole. That could be a problem for people living along the Peace River, which overflowed its banks from Ian in Polk, Hardee and DeSoto counties.

Eric Oglesby is an hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

"The Peace River — that's running much higher than normal and the soils there are much more saturated," Oglesby said. "There was significantly more rain there. So the interior rivers really are the most vulnerable right now."

Nicole could also produce a storm surge of up to 4 feet from the Anclote River northward on the Gulf Coast, and up to 3 feet from Longboat Key to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay.

Oglesby said people living along these rivers should prepare as they do with any approaching storm.

"Right now, we should be taking all preparations that you would normally take ahead of a tropical storm or hurricane," Oglesby said. "If you're in a vulnerable area, you need to prepare. And of course listen to any emergency managers for each county on what specific advice they have."

Greater Tampa Bay area counties are within the "cone of uncertainty," indicating that the region could be in the storm's path.

The National Weather Service has issued tropical storm watches for Highlands, Polk, Hardee, DeSoto and Sumter counties.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.