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A news reporter doing a stand up near a sea wall in Cedar Key, Florida, is covered by an unexpected wave.
A news reporter doing a stand up near a sea wall in Cedar Key, Florida, is covered by an unexpected wave.
Image: AP Photo/John Raoux

"This is life-threatening" - State of emergency declared in Florida as first hurricane in a decade hits

Hermine is the fourth Atlantic hurricane of 2016.
Sep 2nd 2016, 8:05 AM 30,061 18

HURRICANE HERMINE IS barrelling towards Florida, packing damaging winds and heavy rains that the state’s governor warned could create “life-threatening” conditions.

“This is life-threatening. This hurricane is strengthening,” Governor Rick Scott told journalists last night.

“We’re going to see landfall about 2am (7am Irish time).”

Weather.com reports that as of 6am, the hurricane was centered about 30 miles south-southeast of Tallahassee, Florida.

Data from an Air Force hurricane hunter plane indicated that maximum sustained winds in Hermine had increased to about 80 miles (130 km) per hour at 8 pm (1am Irish time), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said, predicting some additional strengthening before landfall.

That would make it a Category One hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Hermine is the fourth Atlantic hurricane of 2016 and the first to hit Florida in more than a decade.

Hermine was about 45 miles south of Apalachicola and moving about 14 miles per hour.

A hurricane warning was in effect for northern Florida and authorities predicted dangerous storm surges and flooding.

Tropical Weather Hermine Rough surf smashes against a dock as Hurricane Hermine nears the Florida coast. Source: AP Photo/Joshua Replogle

Heavy rains were already pummeling many parts of the southern state last night, accompanied by intense wind gusts.

Northern Florida, southeast Georgia and the eastern Carolinas also faced tornado threats that could last into Friday night.

“Winds are already near tropical storm strength in portions of the warning area, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous,” the NHC said.

Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

The NHC forecasted total rainfall accumulations of five to 10 inches in parts of northwest Florida and southern Georgia, with some isolated areas receiving 15 inches.

State of Emergency

Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said 100 Florida National Guard personnel were activated, with 6,000 more on alert in the state and 34,000 members ready to deploy from elsewhere in the US.

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Tropical Weather Hermine Police block the road entering Cedar Key. Source: AP Photo/John Raoux

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,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

“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,” said Earnest.

Scott has declared a state of emergency in 51 counties to free up resources to brace for the storm.

“Anyone in the storm’s path must have ready the resources your families need such as water, flashlights, batteries and medicine,” he said, warning that power could go out for days or even weeks.

The state of Florida has issued a mandatory evacuation notices in the counties of Dixie, Franklin, Taylor, Wakulla and Levy.

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald

© – AFP, 2016

Read: WATCH: Cruise ship forced to turn around after sailing into hurricane-force winds in the Atlantic

Read: The weather is getting weirder. There’s a hurricane FIVE MONTHS before hurricane season

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