GULF OF MEXICO (WCMH/AP)–The tropics are very active, coinciding with peak hurricane season.
Newly named Tropical Storm Hermine (pronounced her-MEEN) in the Gulf of Mexico (formerly Tropical Depression 9), with sustained winds of 40 mph, will gradually turn northeast toward northwest Florida by tomorrow. Hermine will bring 5-10 inches of rain, with expected landfall late Thursday near Cedar Key, and the northern peninsula. The storm will also be a big rainmaker for the Southeastern seaboard up to the Carolinas, before heading seaward over the weekend.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for 42 counties.
“By declaring a state of emergency in advance of this storm, we are ensuring that state, regional and local agencies can work together to meet the needs of our communities,” Scott said in a statement Wednesday.
Scott says the declaration eases access to disaster resources and funding and allows the state to seek federal assistance.
Hermine is forecast to eventually hit north of the Tampa Bay area, a region already beset by heavy rain and thunderstorms.
Tropical Depression 8 (TD8) brushed the North Carolina coast, swiping the Outer Banks, but heading out to sea. Much farther southeast, Hurricane Gaston (115 mph) has no chance of reaching the East Coast.
In the Pacific, Hurricane Madeline (75 mph) is approaching the Big Island of Hawaii on the south side, which has not had a direct hit since Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai in 1992. Lester (gusts to near 150 mph) trails behind in the Central Pacific—a rare double threat for Hawaii, depending on the eventual tracks.
Central Pacific Hurricane Center forecaster Tom Evans says the storm no longer has the strong, noticeable eye that was seen Tuesday.
Madeline was 140 miles southeast of the Big Island city of Hilo early Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, slower than Tuesday’s 120 mph winds.
The storm is on track to skirt or hit the island’s southern edge, an area of ranches, small towns and Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park.
Evans says the area could see hurricane-strength winds of up to 80 mph. He noted that even tropical storm-force winds downed trees and power lines when Tropical Storm Iselle hit two years ago.
He says heavy rains could lead to flooding and large surf could damage coastlines.