Hurricane Hermine makes landfall in northern Florida

Hermine, the first hurricane to hit Florida since 2005, brings flooding and destructive winds to the state's "Big Bend".

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    Hurricane Hermine made landfall in northern Florida early on Friday morning and will continue to generate heavy rain, violent winds, flooding and the risk of tornadoes for the next day or so in Florida and its northern neighbours.

    Hermine prompted the first hurricane warning in Florida in four years. The last hurricane to actually make landfall in Florida was Wilma in 2005.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency to help 51 counties prepare. A mandatory evacuation notice was issued for Franklin County,which lies to the west of Ochlockonee Bay.

    The eye came onshore near St Mark’s on the "Big Bend" of Florida, where the peninsula becomes the panhandle.

    The state capital, Tallahassee, reported a gust of 160 kilometres an hour at 06:00 GMT. City officials said at least 70,000 homes were without power.

    The most violent winds circulate around the eyewall, which in Hermine's case looked to be less than 80km in diameter.

    But this is a ragged cyclone and its worst effects are not confined to the thunderstorm ring around the eye. As in most hurricanes, the most destructive aspect is the storm surge - the lifted ocean - that floods all low-lying coastal land.

    Hermine's storm surge is between one and three metres and the risk extends as far south as Homosassa Springs, a third of the way down Florida's peninsula, to Ochlockonee Bay, surprisingly not far west of the point of landfall.

    Cedar Key, a town halfway between Tallahassee and Tampa, has seen a two metre storm surge, the expected high tide is one metre. Extensive flooding was the result.

    Hermine, as a tropical storm, is forecast to continue through southeast Georgia and the Carolinas. Along these Atlantic coastlines, a storm surge is also possible. Inland, the risks are torrential rain, strong winds and tornadoes.

    The history of Hermine is destructive. It started in Africa, crossed the Atlantic and passed through the Leeward Islands to the Dominican Republic. More than 1,700 people were reported displaced from their homes in the Dominican Republic because of heavy rainfall. 

    Hermine spent some time near Cuba, dropping a reported 317mm of rain over Santa Lucia in the east of the island. Over Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, Hermine still has the potential to leave at least 200mm of rain in any one place.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News and agencies


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