Hermine is now a hurricane, becoming better organized and you can see this on the visible satellite with storms now wrapping around the center. This will allow it to continue to get stronger even through it is going through some stronger wind shear and dry air to its west.
However, it is moving over very warm water in the upper 80s and that is helping to make it stronger. Hurricane Hunters have been flying into Hermine this morning and have found flight level winds around 75-78 mph which translates into surface winds around 65 mph. This makes it a strong tropical storm.
Hermine is expected to stay a hurricane through landfall tonight.
Hurricane Warnings are in place for part of the Florida panhandle. Right now, landfall is expected to be overnight between 1-3 AM near Apalachicola, FL with 75 mph winds. A storm surge of as much as 5-8 feet is possible in the Big Bend of Florida.
Rain totals could easily be around 5 to 10 inches, and even as much as 20 inches in spots across NW Florida and Southern GA. Those areas will need to watch out for flash flooding!
Once the storm moves inland, it will merge with a cold front, and then move quickly NE through GA, SC and NC before it emerges into the Atlantic Ocean. At that time, it will likely have lost some of its tropical characteristics and become a big coastal low.
However, there is chance it could regain them once it is back over the ocean and the wind shear is not as strong. Then the models are showing it stalling near Long Island, NY on Sunday through Tuesday. This could cause the NE to deal with heavy rain, gusty winds and high surf. We will have to see how Hermine evolves once moves back into the ocean to see how bad it could be for the NE U.S.
The only threats Louisiana will see from Hermine would be coastal flooding with tides 1-2+ feet above normal, and a few outer rainbands may move over St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. Those areas could get a quick downpour and some gusty winds.
Labor Day Weekend Beach Forecast: if you are headed to any of the beaches in MS, AL or FL then you can expect some pretty good weather. Hermine will be well gone, and the only thing you will have to worry about is a stalled cold front along I-10. This will bring the beaches a 30% chance for daily storms with highs in the 90s. However, if you are going east of Destin to Panama City or places east of that, then there will likely be power outages, wind damage and flooding from Hermine's landfall as a hurricane.
(© 2016 WWL)