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Tropical storm warning issued for the Tampa area as Nicole's track shifts south

Tropical Storm Nicole forecast track
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Tropical Storm Nicole is forecast to make landfall along the east coast overnight Thursday before cutting across the state.

Portions of Florida's west coast — including the greater Tampa Bay region — are under a tropical storm warning as Tropical Storm Nicole continues to strengthen as it approaches the state early Wednesday morning just shy of hurricane strength.

The National Hurricane Center issued the warning along the west coast, from Bonita Beach to Indian Pass, and a storm surge watch is in effect from Tarpon Springs north to Indian Pass.

ALSO READ: Hurricane warnings issued along east coast ahead of Nicole

As of Wednesday at 5 a.m., Nicole was located around 270 miles east of West Palm Beach and moving to the west-southwest at 13 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 70 mph with higher gusts.

Megan Borowski, a meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, says Nicole could be a Category 1 hurricane when it makes landfall between Vero Beach and Boca Raton.

"Landfall is still projected to occur overnight [Thursday], and the forecast track has nudged southward and westward," Borowski said. [Thursday], Nicole should cut across the Southern peninsula toward Sarasota and briefly emerge into the northest Gulf of Mexico.

"It’ll weaken as it follows this path, but the center is poised to move over the eastern Panhandle — near Tallahassee and Apalachicola very early on Friday — producing flooding rain rates and gusty winds there.

Nicole is forecast to produce rainfall totals of 3-5 inches, with isolated totals of 8 inches possible.

Coastal areas across the state will also see increased storm surge, with the Nature Coast possibly seeing a local maximum of up to 4 feet.

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