Why was Nicole so bad?

Clay County asks boaters to stay off water because of debris from Nicole

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- – Nicole continues to fade away in the Appalachians, but it packed quite the punch across much of Florida, including our area.

But why did a Category 1 hurricane cause so many issues compared to the other hurricane this year, Major Hurricane Ian?

WATCH: Assistant Chief Meteorologist David Heckard explains why Nicole was so bad

Location, Location, Location

When talking about hurricanes and impacts, location is a major factor on impacts.

Hurricanes are divided into quadrants, and not all quadrants are the same.

Storm quadrants showing the active side of the storm.

The western side of the storm is the “clean” or “dry” side of the system. The side often features significantly less rain and storm surge.

The eastern side of the storm is the “active” or “wet” side of the system. This side features heavy rain, storm surge and isolated tornadoes.

Ian’s track

Ian was a large and powerful hurricane, but its track was key for impacts in our area.

Ian’s center stayed well south and east of the area. This put the region on the “clean” side of the storm.

Ian's eastern track but the "clean" side of the storm over the area.

While we did have storm surge, tidal flooding, heavy rainfall and strong winds, the worst weather stayed in Central Florida and in the Atlantic waters.

The surge and tidal flooding were not more widespread due to more of a north and northwesterly flow. This did not allow a huge push of storm surge and tidal flooding.

Nor’easter plus Nicole

This week, it wasn’t just Nicole that was impactful.

Before Nicole even approached the area, a Nor’easter was underway.

The Nor’easter was already battering the coast, bringing strong winds, some coastal flooding and significant beach erosion.

Nor'easter effects on Northeast Florida.

In addition, high astronomical tides were also occurring. This naturally results in elevated high tide levels.

This set the table for Nicole to do damage -- and its track did not help matters.

Nicole stayed to the west of the area. This kept the region in the “active” side of the storm.

Nicole's western track put the active side of the storm over the area.

Winds remained out of the northeast and north, allowing significant storm surge, beach erosion, and tidal flooding that caused significant issues along the St. Johns River.

The only thing Nicole didn’t produce was flooding rains. The storm was impacted by significant dry air that was in place across North Florida and Georgia.

Another key to Nicole was its large size.

Nicole started as a subtropical storm, which meant it already had a large wind field.

That wind field expanded to almost 500 miles from the center. This is why wind impacts in Jacksonville were similar to cities closer to the core, like Orlando and Lakeland.

While Nicole was not a monster hurricane, its impacts were similar - if not worse - than Ian’s. This shows that every storm is truly different, the track can be key and not to get caught up in the “category” of a storm.

About the Author:

David Heckard is The Weather Authority's Assistant Chief Meteorologist.