Hurricane Hermine Strikes Florida's West Coast

Hurricane Hermine is making landfall at the time of this blog post, in the early hours of Friday morning in Florida. Millions of people are in its path, and there are related tornado watches throughout the state through mid-day Friday. A NOAA update at 1:55AM shows 2-3 inches of rain have fallen in Tallahassee, where some 70,000 people are without power already. Flash flooding is reported, and more is expected. Isolated gusts of 45-50mph have been recorded in the first two hours of landfall in the "Big Bend" of Florida's West Coast.

The "life-threatening hurricane," as NOAA describes it, is the first hurricane to hit the Gulf of Mexico in 3 years. It is the first to make landfall in Florida in over a decade.

From the Tallahassee Democrat extreme weather live-blog:

Tropical storm-force winds and driving rain are pummeling Tallahassee as the edge of the eyewall of Hurricane Hermine brushes by Tallahassee. The National Weather Service clocked a gust at 49 miles per hour. Doak saw an even 50. City crews are no longer out battling the outages becuase of safety concerns. The city when its safe, crews will resume work.

Local TV news coverage and national news show remarkable images of storm surges, pounding rain, powerful winds, and early glimpses at the damage.

Now that the storm has made landfall, it will begin to weaken. But as it does so, it will produce heavy rains and high winds. The peak times for various areasx are different, and the storm will dissipate Friday.

This is a particularly bad weekend, because many people are heading out on the highways for Labor Day holiday–but because landfall occurred in the wee hours, many people were indoors. This is a tough hit for the Sunshine State's Panhandle region, but as the storm travels north, it could cause problems all the way up in New Jersey and New York.

Weather Underground

Weather Underground

Congresswoman Gwen Graham (D-FL), whose father was governor of Florida during Hurricane Kate 31 years ago, says said she's prepared to ask the federal government to make an emergency declaration for the area affected by Hurricane Hermine, if that is neccesary.

From Bob Henson and Jeff Masters at Weather Underground:

Widespread storm surge was barreling into Florida's northeast Gulf Coast late Thursday night with the approach of Hurricane Hermine. The warm waters of the eastern Gulf fueled an well-advertised strengthening of Hermine on Thursday afternoon and evening. Hermine was an 80-mph Category 1 hurricane as of the midnight update from the National Hurricane Center. NHC placed the center of Hermine about 40 miles southeast of Tallahassee, FL, just an hour or two from making landfall. Thunderstorms were wrapped around a semi-distinct eye, and heavy bands of rain were clearly evident on radar. An especially intense belt of rain was moving across the northernmost FL peninsula late Thursday.

A Hurricane Warning remained in effect from Suwanee River to Mexico Beach, FL. A variety of other hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings plastered the Gulf and Atlantic coasts from Florida all the way to northern New Jersey (see below for more on Hermine's expected track). With Hurricane Gaston also active in the Central Atlantic, we now have multiple hurricanes in the Atlantic for the first time since the first week of September 2012, when Hurricane Leslie and Hurricane Michael were both active. Hermine will be the first hurricane to strike Florida since Wilma hit South Florida as a Category 3 storm in October 2005. Hermine will also be the first hurricane to strike the U.S. since Hurricane Arthur hit North Carolina on July 3, 2014 as a Category 2 storm with 100 mph winds.

Weather Underground is a great source for continuing storm coverage.