Hurricane Nicole 1998

Preliminary Report
Hurricane Nicole
24 November - 02 December 1998


Tropical Storm Alex (TS)
Hurricane Bonnie (3)
Tropical Storm Charley (TS)
Hurricane Danielle (2)
Hurricane Earl (2)
Tropical Storm Frances (TS)
Hurricane Georges (4)
Tropical Storm Hermine (TS)
Hurricane Ivan (1)
Hurricane Jeanne (2)
Hurricane Karl (2)
Hurricane Lisa (1)
Hurricane Mitch (5)
Hurricane Nicole (1)

Late season Hurricane Nicole was a tenacious tropical cyclone that persisted for several days over the northeast Atlantic.


a. Synoptic History

Nicole developed from a nearly stationary and strong frontal low which persisted for several days over the northeast Atlantic, centered a few hundred miles south of the Canary Islands. Satellite imagery suggested that the frontal low acquired tropical characteristics when a tightly-wrapped convective band developed around the center of circulation. It is estimated that the system reached tropical storm status at 0600 UTC 24 November. Later on, a ship with call sign PFSJ confirmed that the system had acquired tropical characteristics when reported 41 mph at 1200 UTC 24 November just to the north of the center of the tropical storm. The tropical cyclone was then located in the central portion of a larger upper-level low where the vertical wind shear was relatively weak. This is typical for these late-season developments in the subtropics. Nicole continued to become organized while an intermittent eye-feature was observed on satellite images. Maximum winds increased to 69 mph as indicated by reports from the same ship.

Nicole moved toward the west-southwest for the next few days while located south of a strong mid-level high pressure ridge. An upper-level trough moved rapidly eastward over the system, producing a strong wind shear. The shear removed most of the convection associated with the tropical cyclone which weakened to tropical depression status on 26 November. If fact, the system became so weak that advisories were discontinued. However, the ridge which followed the upper-level trough became superimposed over the system, decreasing the shear. Deep convection regenerated and unexpectedly, the system reacquired tropical storm strength by the 27th.

Nicole then began to move on a west-northwest track. Thereafter, it turned toward the northeast ahead of another strong approaching cold front. Nicole intensified further and reached hurricane status with peak winds of 86 mph and a minimum pressure of 979 mb at 0000 UTC 1 December. These estimates were based on satellite images which revealed the formation of an eye, resulting in objective T-numbers oscillating around 4.5 on the Dvorak scale. In addition, data from the Defense Military Satellite Program (DMSP) 85 GHz sensor showed an almost complete eyewall. During that period, Nicole was moving over a region of anomalously warm sea surface temperatures of the order of 2 or 3 degrees. This anomalous feature was probably partially responsible for the intensification of the system. Nicole moved rapidly northward and north-northwestward around the periphery of a large deep-layer cyclonic circulation and became extratropical by 1800 UTC 1 December.

b. Meteorological Statistics

Observations from the ship PSFJ were crucial to determine the structure and the intensity of Nicole. In fact, the storm's intensity was operationally increased to 69 mph based on a 67-mph wind report from that vessel at 1800 UTC 24 November.

c. Casualty and Damage Statistics

There are no reports of casualty and damage from Nicole.

Maximum Intensity For Hurricane Nicole
24 November - 02 December, 1998

Position Pressure
Wind Speed
Lat. (°N) Lon. (°W)
01/0000 35.1 37.9 979 85 Category 1 Hurricane