Tropical Storm Hermine Grows Stronger, is Expected to Hit Florida as a Hurricane

Tropical Storm Hermine strengthened Thursday morning as it barreled toward the Gulf Coast of Florida, where it’s expected to make landfall as a hurricane by early Friday.

It would be the state’s first hit from a hurricane since Wilma on Oct. 24, 2005, a record storm-free streak of 3,965 days.

In advance of the storm, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency. A mandatory evacuation notice has been issued for Franklin County, located along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico on the Florida Panhandle. Several Florida schools announced closings on Thursday or Friday due to the storm.

As of 11 a.m., ET, Hermine was located 170 miles south-southwest of Appalachicola, Fla., with winds of 65 mph. It was moving to the north-northeast at 14 mph. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph. A hurricane warning is in effect for the Big Bend area of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The biggest concern is downed trees and widespread power outages caused by tropical-storm-force winds, according to the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.

Storm surge flooding in some areas along the Gulf Coast could reach up to 8 feet. There is a danger of life-threatening inundation within the next 36 hours, the hurricane center said.

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SOURCE: Doyle Rice