Hurricane Hermine begins assault on Florida’s Gulf Coast

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 2 (UPI) — Hurricane Hermine began hammering Florida Friday morning, the first hurricane to make land in the state in 11 years.

Hermine made landfall in the Big Bend area as a Category 1 hurricane, bringing with it winds of 80 miles per hour, several inches of rain and storm surge.

More than 70,000 people in Tallahassee are without power and many low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast were issued evacuation orders with between 10 and 15 inches of rain expected over the next few days.

Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott urged residents to take precautions, calling the storm “life-threatening.”

Coastal flood warnings were issued along Florida’s panhandle, from the Suwannee River to Mexico Beach, including the Tallahassee area. Tropical force winds are expected to extend out 140 miles and up to 20 inches of rain is forecasted in some areas.

The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for a section of the Florida panhandle coast, including Tallahassee, Perry and Apalachicola.

Much of the coastal southeastern United States is likely to see heavy rain in the coming days.

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. There is a danger of life-threatening inundation within the next 36 hours along the gulf coast of Florida from Aripeka to Indian Pass,” The National Hurricane Center said.

Once the storm hits land, it is expected to weaken and move north up along the East Coast.

“On Friday and Saturday, Hermine is expected to produce totals of 4 to 8 inches with local amounts of 10 inches possible across portions of eastern Georgia, South Carolina, and eastern North Carolina through Saturday. These rains may cause life-threatening flash flooding,” the NHC said.

Hermine will be the first hurricane to hit Florida since Wilma in 2005.

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