September 2016 – WEATHER – Hurricane Hermine slammed into Florida leaving one person dead, 253,000 without power and caused dozens of towns in its path to evacuate as it continues to cause chaos on its way into Georgia and the Carolinas. The Category 1 storm hit just east of St. Marks around 1.30 am EDT with winds around 80 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Projected storm surges of up to 12 feet menaced a wide swath of the coast and an expected drenching of up to 10 inches of rain carried the danger of flooding along the storm’s path over land, including the state capital Tallahassee, which had not been hit by a hurricane since Kate in 1985.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, who declared a state of emergency in 51 counties, said 6,000 National Guard members were ready to mobilize once the storm passed. Hermine – downgraded to a tropical storm – weakened as it moved into southern Georgia, and was 55 miles southwest of Savannah, moving northeast while packing sustained winds of 55 pm as of 10 am EDT on Friday. After pushing through Georgia on Friday, Hermine is expected to move into the Carolinas on Saturday and up the East Coast with the potential for drenching rain and deadly flooding in New Jersey and New York City over the Labor Day weekend.
Heavy rain and winds were moving into South and North Carolina as the storm advanced, the National Hurricane Center said. Hermine is forecast to hover near or off the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast seaboard, braced for strong winds and coastal flooding, according to The Weather Channel. Its predicted path shows it will move through parts of Savannah, Georgia on Friday and then up through Charleston, South Carolina. It will continue through Wilmington, North Carolina on Saturday, pushing further northeast, appearing to hit parts of West Virginia, before hovering over the North Atlantic.
Currently, a tropical storm watch is in effect in coastal parts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and the Virginia Tidewater. A tornado watch has also been issued by the Storm Prediction Center and will remain until 8 am EDT for parts of northern and west central Florida, along with southern Georgia and southern South Carolina. Hurricane Hermine made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend area early Friday as the first hurricane to hit the state in more than a decade, bringing soaking rain and high winds. As of 6.30 am on Friday, there was an estimated 22 million people under either a tropical storm watch or tropical storm warning, according to The Weather Channel.
Schools in 35 of the Florida’s 67 counties were closed; meanwhile state offices were closed in 37 counties. Scott said 253,000 people were without power. Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said 100 Florida National Guard personnel were activated, with 34,000 ready to deploy from elsewhere in the United States. President Barack Obama has asked FEMA administrator Craig Fugate to keep him updated on the situation ‘and to alert him if there are any significant unmet needs,’ White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. ‘Local, state and federal officials have been working diligently to prepare for these storms and have resources on hand to respond to them as necessary,’ he added. –Daily Mail