Hurricane Nicole was the fourteenth named storm and tenth hurricane of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season. Nicole was the final storm of the season, and a very late-forming tropical cyclone. Nicole developed from a frontal low south of the Azores on November 24, and as it moved west-southwest, it attained an initial peak of 70 mph winds. An approaching upper-level trough brought hostile wind shear over Nicole, which weakened it to a tropical depression. Nicole entered an area of lighter vertical wind shear after the trough's passage, and re-strengthened, reaching its peak intensity of 85 mph as a hurricane on December 1, as an approaching cold front brought Nicole to the northeast. It then rapidly weakened over the cool waters of the North Atlantic. Nicole is the most intense hurricane December hurricane, and tied for the second strongest December hurricane.
Nicole caused no damage or deaths.
|Formation||November 24, 1998|
|Dissipation||December 1, 1998|
|Highest winds||85 mph|
|Lowest pressure||979 mbar|
A strong frontal low was located several hundred miles south of the Azores, and persisted for several days in late November, while remaining nearly stationary. After the frontal low began to move steadily off to the west, a tightly-wrapped band of convection developed near the center, and it is estimated the system became Tropical Depression Fourteen while located 725 miles south of Lajes, Azores. As the system moved west-southwest, it quickly intensified, becoming Tropical Storm Nicole six hours after becoming a depression. Nicole was a small storm, and upon forming, tropical storm-force winds extended out only 60 miles from its center. A few hours after attaining tropical storm status, a ship just north of the center reported 41 mph sustained winds, confirming the tropical cyclone's existance. Located to the south of a mid-level ridge, Nicole continued west-southwest while centered within a large upper-level low. As is common for late-season storms that form in the subtropics, this produced light vertical wind shear over Nicole.
Nicole as a 70 mph tropical storm.
Nicole moved through an area of 77°F waters, and an intermittent eye-like feature developed in the small area of deep convection, and Nicole strengthened to attain an initial peak intensity of 70 mph. After maintaining 70 mph winds for about 12 hours, an upper-level trough moved rapidly eastward over Nicole, bringing hostile amounts of wind shear. The shear weakened Nicole, and by late on November 25, the center of circulation became exposed west of the diminishing convection. The shear dissipated most of the convection, and Nicole degenerated to a tropical depression on November 26. Advisories were temporarily discontinued at the time, and regeneration was considered unlikely. The remnant low turned to the west, and following the passage of the trough that sheared Nicole, a ridge became established over Nicole. This caused a decrease in wind shear, and deep convection refired over Nicole. The National Hurricane Center re-issued advisories for Nicole on November 27 while it was located about 1515 miles west-southwest of the Canary Islands.
The low-level circulation was initially exposed on the southwestern side of the convection, though Nicole quickly re-strengthened once the remaining shear abated, and, unexpectedly, it re-strengthened into a tropical storm again late on November 27. Upon reaching tropical storm status again, the center of Nicole moved underneath the deep convection while an anticyclone developed over the storm. Banding features began to develop within Nicole, and outflow was well-defined. An approaching cold front turned Nicole to the north, and late on November 28, Nicole reached its westernmost point, while located 1125 miles east-northeast of Bermuda. Nicole turned northeast, wind shear from the approaching cold front weakened Nicole slightly, and the center became situated near the western edge of the deep convection. Upper-level diffluence allowed Nicole to maintain its convection despite the shearing environment, an an eye-like feature developed within the deep convection for a second time.
Anamalously warm sea surface temperatures of 2° to 3°C (3° to 5°F) above normal allowed Nicole to continue strengthening, and early on November 30, Nicole became a hurricane, while located 1280 miles west-southwest of Lajes, Azores. A nearly complete [[eyewall] organized within the hurricane, and early on December 1, Nicole attained its peak intensity of 85 mph as a Category 1 hurricane. It turned northward, rapidly weakening as it did so. Late on December 1, Nicole transitioned into an extratropical cyclone while located 285 miles northwest of the Azores. The extratropical system turned to the northwest while moving around the periphery of a larger circulation, and on December 2, Nicole dissipated entirely.
Impact, Naming, and Records
Nicole caused no damage or deaths, being far away from land throughout its life. By forming at 28°W, Nicole holds the record for the easternmost tropical cyclone to form in the month of November. Nicole also persisted as a hurricane up until 37°N latitude, a record for the month of December. With 85 mph winds, Nicole is tied with Hurricane Epsilon of 2005 as the second-strongest December hurricane in the Atlantic basin, only behind a 105 mph hurricane in 1925. However, a preliminary reanalysis of the 1925 December storm stated that it failed to even become a hurricane. This would make Nicole and Epsilon the strongest tropical cyclones in the month of December in the Atlantic basin. By pressure, Nicole is the most intense December hurricane in the Atlantic basin.
Due to the lack of any effects, Nicole wasn't retired in the Spring of 1999 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was used again in 2004, and is on the list of names to be used for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.