As Hurricane Matthew ripped through Florida on Friday morning, with wind speeds recorded at 120 miles per hour, the weather-weary United States east coast learned that a second hurricane was brewing in the Caribbean — Hurricane Nicole.
Here’s what you need to know about the second Atlantic hurricane in one week.
1. Nicole is a Category 2 Hurricane
Until Thursday night, Nicole — which remains well off the coast of the eastern United States — was considered a “Tropical Storm.” But just before 11 p.m. Eastern Time the National Hurricane Center said that Nicole had been upgraded to full-fledged hurricane status.
According to the National Hurricane Center, while not “devastating,” a Category 2 hurricane, as measured on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, can still be “extremely dangerous.”
“Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage,” the NHC says on its web site. “Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.”
2. The Second Hurricane’s Winds Have Reached 105 mph
With sustained winds recorded at 80 miles per hour, Nicole has also spat out gusts clocking in at 105 mph. With Hurricane Matthew seeing wind speeds up to 120 mph, that makes two hurricanes with wind speeds of at least 105, the latest in the year that this phenomenon has occurred — or at least been recorded – according to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach.
Klotzbach also noted that what weather experts call the “Accumulated Cyclone Energy” — that is, a measure of total activity in a single hurricane season — for October of this year is already the eighth-highest on record since 1950 for the Atlantic region. And the month is only one week old.
3. Nicole and Matthew Could Interact, Creating Greater Danger
Meteorologists are now worried that Hurricane Nicole and Hurricane Matthew could create a dangerous phenomenon known as “The Fujiwara Effect,” which can occur when a pair of hurricanes are separated by 900 miles or fewer. While the possibility that the effect could happen with Matthew and Nicole remained a matter of speculation as of Friday morning, the result could range anywhere from the two cyclones “dancing” around each other in relatively harmless fashion, to the stronger storm — in this case, Matthew — swallowing up its weaker sister to create a single, destructive “superstorm.”
The most recent example came in 2005 when Hurricane Wilma absorbed Tropical Storm Alpha.
4. Hurricane Nicole is Not Expected to Make Landfall
While destructive, the effects of Hurricane Matthew were not as severe are feared on Thursday as the storm took a turn to the east avoiding the kind of direct hit on heavily populated areas that could have proven devastating. By 5 a.m. on Friday, hurricane warnings in Palm Beach County, Florida, were lifted.
Hurricane Nicole was creating swells on the coastlines of Bermuda which were expected to continue for several days into next week. But outside of its possible interactions with Hurricane Matthew, Nicole was not expected to hit the United States directly, at least as of Friday morning.
The hurricane center warned that Nicole could pick up strength again next week, however, and become a hurricane again after its expected downgrade back to a tropical storm.
5. The Two Simultaneous Hurricanes Are a Historic Event
“This is the first time since September 10, 1964, that two Category 2 (or stronger) hurricanes have occurred simultaneously in the Atlantic basin west of 65W,” the National Hurricane Center said in a written statement. “Interestingly, those hurricanes in 1964, Dora and Ethel, were in similar positions as Matthew and Nicole are now.”
While Matthew was creating waves at sea up to 32 feet high, Nicole’s waves hit 20 feet, obviously creating hazardous conditions for ocean vessels in the western Atlantic. But unlike Matthew which powered its way northeast and slammed into the U.S. coastline, Nicole is remaining largely in place for the time being, possibly drifting somewhat to the south.
Read more about Hurricane Nicole in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com: