TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Counties in the Tampa Bay area are beginning to announce that shelters are opening ahead of Hurricane Nicole.

The area will see the most of Nicole on Thursday with tropical storm force winds that begin before sunrise, lasting through the evening. There will be a steady light to moderate rain across the area as well, and heavier rain bands are possible.

Three to six inches of rain are possible in Highlands, Polk, and Citrus counties. Winds will begin to subside Thursday night.

According to Governor Ron DeSantis, there are currently 15 shelters opening in the state as of Wednesday morning.

The following counties have announced shelter openings and this story will be updated as more information comes into our newsroom.

Pinellas County

Two community shelters will open in Pinellas County Wednesday night.

Ross Norton Recreation Center, located at 1426 S M.L.K. Jr Ave. in Clearwater and Lealman Exchange Community Center, located at 5175 45th St. N. in St. Petersburg, will open at 6 p.m.

Lealman Exchange Community Center is equipped to support residents who depend on electricity or require medical assistance like oxygen or assistance with routine care.

Lealman is also a pet-friendly shelter. Dogs and cats must come in a cage with appropriate pet food and supplies.

Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County has opened a shelter at Erwin Technical College, located at 2010 E. Hillsborough Ave. The shelter opens at noon on Wednesday.

No evacuations have been ordered in the county and the shelter is intended for residents who are concerned about staying in their homes, such as those dependent on electricity for medical needs, or those who live in homes and manufactured homes that are susceptible to storm damage.

Pets will be accepted at the shelter in a sturdy carrier that allows room for the animal to stand and move around. Proof of current rabies vaccination and a license for dogs and cats, as well as pet supplies like food, water, litter, cleaning supplies and medications are required.

The county said whenever possible, residents should consider alternatives such as staying with friends, family or in a hotel.

Pasco County

Pasco County issued a local state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Nicole and will be opening a hurricane shelter at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The shelter will be open at the Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter, located at 11161 Denton Ave. in Hudson.

The county encourages residents to consider staying with family or friends.

Highlands County

A shelter for the general population will open at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Fred Wild Elementary School, located at 3550 Youth Care Lane in Sebring.

The county listed the following items to bring if seeking shelter:

  • Any necessary medications
  • Oxygen concentrators and/or nebulizers for those who need
  • Food items needed to sustain your diet for those with special dietary needs
  • Eyeglasses, flashlights, house and car keys, special infant items
  • Bedding such as bedrolls, sheets, pillows and even a cot if available
  • Personal hygiene items such as toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, soap, etc.
  • Small items for entertainment such as cards, books, magazines, coloring books for the children, handheld games, etc.
  • Nonperishable foods that do not require cooking or heating (there is no refrigerator in some cases)
  • Clothing as needed

A special needs shelter will open Wednesday at noon at the health department, located at  7205 S. George Blvd., in Sebring. Registration for the shelter is required.