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Record water levels on St. Johns River pose major flooding risk in Florida (again)

As residents around the St. Johns River continued to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of Ian, Hurricane Nicole impacted the area and worsened already difficult recovery efforts.

After weeks of dealing with the fallout from Hurricane Ian, Floridians who live around the St. Johns River in eastern Florida were becoming optimistic that things were finally drying out. Residents were hoping repairs could get underway soon, but all of those plans were halted, and optimistic feelings were erased as yet another hurricane approached the state.

Hurricane Ian brought devastation to communities along the river in late September, including in Seminole County which is located northeast of Orlando. It took days before those living in Seminole County could even begin assessing the damage to their properties as water continued to pour into homes.

But right as the St. Johns River started to return to normal levels, Hurricane Nicole formed and brought yet another risk of flooding to the already devastated area. As Nicole approached the Florida coast, heavy rain once again returned.

Normally, the St. Johns River water level is about 2 feet at the river gauge in Astor, Florida, a Lake County community situated about 45 miles to the north of Orlando. When Nicole made landfall in Florida on Thursday, Nov. 10, the gauge there hit 4.5 feet, which is just 2 inches shy of the record flooding set just last month during Ian.

In general, the area saw a water level rise of about 1 to 1.2 feet after Nicole.

That may not sound like a lot, but it's such a flat landscape in that part of Florida that the rise was enough for the area to jump from moderate flooding back into major flooding, AccuWeather Senior Broadcast Meteorologist Geoff Cornish explained.