FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Windy conditions are being felt throughout South Florida beaches as Tropical Storm Nicole approaches the state, triggering flooding concerns.
Two groups of people were at the beach on Tuesday: tourists who want to know what these pre-storm conditions feel like and locals who already know what is expected when the storm arrives.
Across these beaches, lifeguards have hoisted red flags to warn others about the high winds.
Hollywood Beach was empty on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s not a good day for sitting on the beach, obviously. You’re going to get sandblasted, so we want people to be aware,” said Hollywood Marine Safety Chief Bruce Wilkie.
Lifeguards urge people not to swim.
“It’s still open, but we’re encouraging people to stay out of the water. Conditions are rough, and they’re dangerous,” said Wilkie.
Hours earlier, local resident Ken Garofalo walked his dogs along Fort Lauderdale Beach. He has been through a number of storms in South Florida and said what he’s seen so far from Nicole does not have him worried.
“I think it’s going to the north of us, so we’ll probably get the back end of it, but it won’t be too bad for us here,” he said.
Phil and Julie, who are longtime Floridians, spent the morning watching from their car.
It’s a windy and choppy day on Fort Lauderdale Beach, but they are not overly concerned by what they’re seeing.
“I’m watching it pretty close but not worried right now,” Julie said.
“You just get prepared for it, this storm, unless something changes, this is just ‘take down the awnings and tie down loose stuff,'” Phil said.
Newly hired Fort Lauderdale Beach lifeguards are using these conditions to train and swim to test their capability in the rough surf.
“Right now they’re learning about navigating currents, which as you can tell, there is a very strong south running current,” said Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue Lt. Crystal Haire.
Winds are not the only concerns with the storm. Several inches of rain could fall.
Residents worried about flooding gathered sandbags at several distribution locations across South Florida.
“The sewer drain by our house is really high because the tides are up, so I thought, with the storm coming in, we might have more flooding,” said a local resident.
With king tides at this time of year, officials advise residents to closely monitor storm surge up and down the South Florida coast.
Conditions are expected to worsen on Wednesday, but from Haulover Beach to Fort Lauderdale Beach, the storm’s effects are already being felt in the form of strong breezes and driving rain after the sun set.
“Forecasts call for conditions to worsen late tomorrow,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Transtalis. “Keep in mind that we never know the path a hurricane or a storm will take.”
7News cameras captured a downpour on Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday night.
However, the rainfall did not prevent tourists and locals from gathering at bars near A1A that have withstood their share of serious storms.
“Our flight doesn’t leave until Saturday, so we have no choice. We either wait it out, or we spend a ton of more money to leave early,” said Todd, a visitor from Toronto.
“We’re happy to be here, and we’re going to ride out the storm,” said Kate, who is visiting from Michigan.
Fort Lauderdale officials said crews will be staged throughout the city to help ensure flooding stays at a minimum.
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