Hurricane Hermine made landfall early Friday along Florida’s Gulf Coast, sending battering waves against docks and boathouses as the state got its first direct hit from a hurricane in over a decade, then weakened into a tropical storm.
Hermine was moving inland over the eastern Florida Panhandle after coming ashore as a Category 1 hurricane at the state’s “Big Bend” early Friday morning.
The National Hurricane Center said that, as of 5 a.m. EDT, the storm’s maximum sustained winds had decreased to just under 70 mph, with additional weakening forecast. The storm was centered about 20 miles west of Valdosta, Georgia, and moving north-northeast at nearly 14 mph.
The Hurricane Center said the hurricane‘s eye came ashore just east of St. Marks, Florida, around 1:30 a.m. EDT with top sustained winds nearing 80 mph.
The “Big Bend” area is the mostly rural and lightly populated corner where the Florida peninsula meets the Panhandle.
Hermine was expected to push into Georgia, the Carolinas, then up the East Coast, with the potential for drenching rain and deadly flooding.
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 hadn’t been hit by a hurricane since Kate in 1985.
Rainfall of 4 to 10 inches was possible along the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas by Sunday. Lesser amounts were forecast farther up the Atlantic Coast, because the storm was expected to veer out to sea.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.