Hermine floods coastal areas, downs trees as it hits Florida

Hermine floods coastal areas, downs trees as it hits Florida

The Category 1 storm hit St. Marks, located about 20 miles south of Tallahassee, around 1:30 a.m. ET with winds around 80 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

"The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will continue to cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline", the National Hurricane Center said.

Projected storm surges of up to 12ft threatened a wide stretch of the coast and an expected drenching of up to 10in 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.

"We associate severe rain events like tropical events and hurricanes with increases in nuisance mosquitoes, not disease-spreading (mosquitoes)", said Ben Beard of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By 5 a.m. Friday, the center had reached southern Georgia and was traveling north-northeast at 14 miles per hour, forecasters said.

It is expected to make landfall along Florida's northern Gulf Coast or in the Big Bend area sometime late Thursday or early Friday. Hermine will continue to drift northeast hammering the Carolinas through Sunday and even impact New York City through Labor Day.

Some 170,000 people were without power in the affected region on Friday morning, WCTV television in Tallahassee reported. Forecasters said it would still strengthen slightly some more before blowing ashore but would still be only a Category 1 hurricane. "I went to get up to get a drink of water, I put my foot down, my foot got all wet and I said 'uh oh, ' and I looked down, my floor was flooded", Rafferty said.

At least one man died during the storm, having been struck by a tree in Marion County in north-central Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said Friday.

"I didn't expect it to be this deep", said Rafferty, a resident of the island for three years.

It would be the state's first hit from a hurricane since Wilma in October 2005, a record storm-free streak.

Courtney Chason, a longtime resident of Carrabelle in the Big Bend coastal area, warily watched as big waves began bashing some docks and boathouses, the angry surf flowing right over them.

The tornado watch remains in effect until Saturday morning at 8:00.

Around 6,000 National Guardsmen in Florida are ready to mobilize after the storm passes, officials said.

After making landfall, Hermine is likely to travel up the coast, forecasters warned - perhaps as far as Boston by Monday.

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

Beachgoers will likely face a moderate or greater risk for risky rip currents Saturday through Labor Day.

Georgia's governor declared a state of emergency for 56 counties through Saturday in anticipation of high water and strong winds.

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