Hurricane Hermine made landfall shortly after 1:30 a.m. local time in northwest Florida, and has continued on its northeasterly path toward George and the Carolinas. As is common with late season hurricanes in Florida, Hermine lost a tremendous amount of energy after hitting land, and has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Still, the storm brought enough wind and rain to cause widespread power outages, and many residents evacuated their homes in flood-prone areas, taking refuge in community hurricane shelters overnight.
Prior to making landfall, the Hermine was a Category 1 Hurricane, the weakest in the five-level ranking system used to classify storms, with top wind speeds of 95 miles per hour. The front end of the hurricane caused storm surges early Thursday evening in Alligator Point that rose as much as six feet. Despite the winds and rising waters, only minor damage was reported there. Once the storm made landfall, though, it wreaked havoc on the power grid, leaving 100,000 customers in Tallahassee without power—but officials expect to have the affected substations back online within a few hours.
Weather officials are urging residents in the storm’s path to take advisories seriously. Despite being downgraded to a tropical storm, Hermine still carries threats from wind and excessive rain. Officials in Florida have asked residents to stay off the roadways, so that emergency and utility crews can work to clear downed trees and power lines over the next several hours.
Tornado watches were issued for Georgia and parts of South Carolina and North Carolina and until 4 p.m. EDT Friday, and several downspouts were reported in the Gulf of Mexico. As the storm continues moving northeast, it is expected to travel up the East coast through the Carolinas before heading back over the Atlantic Ocean sometime Sunday morning. There, the storm could gather more strength before pounding the Mid-Atlantic coast with even more rain and high winds.
The National Weather Service reports that Hurricane Hermine is the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in 11 years. Although many storms have pummeled the state with wind and rain, Hermine is the only hurricane-strength storm during that time period to actually cross over the state.