Wind and waves shake Fort Pierce Inlet ahead of Tropical Storm Nicole
Kiteboarders and wave watchers braced for strong gusts of wind at Jetty Park in Fort Pierce on Wednesday ahead of Tropical Storm Nicole.
Rubens Tavora, 27, of Palm Beach Gardens, was among half a dozen kitesurfers taking to the air as people watched from the beach on the south side of Fort Pierce Inlet – despite police blocking the parking lot with barricades .
“The average person is afraid of hurricanes,” Tavora said, “while I’m always watching the forecast for a tropical storm.”
Tavora usually kites at Juno Beach, but those waves were double and too big. Fort Pierce’s south pier helps shield waves from the storm’s north wind.
“This wave is much flatter,” Tavora said. “Not as much rip current.”
The rip current swept a surfer on an 8ft long lime green foam board away from a small crowd of people with their smartphones raised to take videos and photos.
The surfer – Steve Ugley, 52, who moved to Fort Pierce from England – caught a wave heading for shore. Then he headed out to the creek and rowed to catch another wave.
The South Pier, Pier Park, and Pier Linear Park were closed to the public due to hazardous conditions expected when Tropical Storm Nicole approached the Treasure Coast.
All beach access along Seaway Drive and South Ocean Drive has been closed. Street flooding was sporadic on Seaway Drive starting at Binney Drive and heading east.
The storm surge pushed waves, reaching 15 feet above the South Pier and North Pier, where Fort Pierce Inlet State Park was closed. The wing gusts were reaching over 30 mph by midday.
Before Tavora left in full suit, he turned to say one last thing:
“Tell my mother I love her.”
Laurie K. Blandford is TCPalm entertainment journalist and columnist dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Follow her on Twitter @TCPalmLaurie and Facebook @TCPalmLaurie. Email him at [email protected]. Sign up for his What To Do in 772 weekly newsletter on profile.tcpalm.com/newsletters/manage.