According to the National Hurricane Center Tropical Storm Hermine could strengthen by the time it reaches mainland Florida.
The storm is now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. The center of the storm could reach Florida as early as Friday.
The Hurricane Center has warned people living on the Gulf Coast to be prepared. The tropical storm could bring as much as 20 inches of rain in some areas.
Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for 51 counties, out of the total 67. He urges residents to have a plan in place, to protect their families, homes and businesses against the threat.
Right now, the tropical storm Hermine is moving at a speed of about 12mph. The panhandle will start to feel the effects of the wind as early as Thursday night. The storm is also probably going to bring with it life threatening floods in the Indian Pass region, about 50 miles north of Tampa.
According to the estimations of the National Hurricane Center, water levels could reach a height of 1 to 7 feet height in some areas.
The storm would move on north, to Georgia, North and South Carolina after passing through Florida. Right now, it’s at about 275 miles southeast of Tampa.
Earlier this week, the phenomenon was dubbed Tropical Depression Nine. After hitting speeds of over 40 mph, it officially became a full-blown tropical storm. Wind speeds continued to strengthen, and early on Thursday the Hurricane Center observed that the storm now had a sustained speed of 60mph.
If the wind speed grows to over 74 mph, and maintains those levels, it will have officially become a hurricane. If it hits Florida, it will become the first hurricane to touch the state in over 10 years. The last hurricane that hit Florida was Hurricane Wilma.
Tropical Storm Hermine Already Causing Damages
In certain areas, south of Florida, the effects of the storm are already causing damage. In Marco Island, water levels have risen dramatically. Some residents claim to have seen catfish flapping in the streets.
In Pinellas County, in the town of Largo, six families had to move from their homes because the floods. Schools have been shut down for nearly a week. Manatee County has also closed its schools.
And in Pasco County, people living in Spring Hills had barely recovered after the previous storm that flooded the town just a few months earlier. One resident believes this storm will be ten times worse.
In Ana Maria Beach the water reached the cars hubcaps. The towns of St. George Island, Alligator Point, Bald Point and Dog Island, located close to Panama City, in Franklin County are already evacuating their residents. The coastal towns are not going to risk confronting the tropical storm Hermine head on.
The Buccaneers have moved their preseason NFL match against the Washington Redskins from Thursday to Wednesday. The date was changed to avoid any disruptions.
To help residents keep an eye on the storm, the National Weather Service has offered an online app, that tracks the development of the tropical storm Hermine. According to the agency, the graphic highlights hotspots that are more likely to be hit by life-threatening storm surges.
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