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Tropical Storm Hermine Forms In Gulf of Mexico

Many parts of Tampa Bay area could see flooding Thursday as the rain tied to Tropical Storm Hermine continues to pour on the region.

Brian LaMarre, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Tampa said the high tide Thursday afternoon at St. Pete Beach and other coastal areas could be a problem.

“We may see minor coastal flooding in the area along the beaches,” he said. “Anywhere along Hernando County northward to anywhere along the Florida Big Bend.”

As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service says Hermine is moving toward the north-northeast near 8 mph, and this is expected to continue through Thursday.  On the forecast track, the center will be near the coast in the warning area Thursday night.

The Gulf Coast from the Anclote River to Destin is under a tropical storm warning.

As the storm is expected to pick up Thursday, most public schools in the Tampa Bay area will be close, as will the University of South Florida. For information on local closings and cancelations due to the storm, click here.

Flood watches will continue through Friday evening, as the heavy rain that started Wednesday will continue through Friday, with 3-to-5 inches of rain expected in most areas. The most rain – between 8 and 12 inches – could be possible closer to the coast.

LaMarre said the areas near and to the east of the storm track will also be at risk for tornados.

“There will be these outer rain bands that start forming and rotating around it. When those rain bands start coming in, most likely during the day on Thursday and into Thursday night, is going to be the time frame when we’re going to be looking to see if any tornadoes will start spinning up in those outer rain bands,” he said.

The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning Wednesday morning for a section of Florida's Gulf coast and Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency as Hermine approaches.

It covers an area from Anclote River to the Walton County-Bay County line in the Panhandle. The Miami-based center says a hurricane hunter plane has determined that a tropical depression strengthened Wednesday into the named storm and Hermine now boasts top sustained winds of 40 mph.

It says Hermine is centered about 415 miles west-southwest of Tampa, Florida and is drifting at 2 mph toward the north.

The center says the tropical storm should turn more toward the northeast with increasing speed on Thursday and is on a forecast track that would approach the northwest Florida coast about Thursday afternoon.

A storm surge threat exists along the Nature Coast in the Big Bend region. Wind damage and flooding are also concerns when it moves ashore, Huffman said.

The state of emergency covers 42 counties, Scott said in a release.

“It is crucial that every Floridian has a plan in place to ensure their families, homes and businesses are fully prepared,” Scott said. “I have been closely monitoring this storm’s development and our emergency management officials have been working hard to make sure we are ready to respond to any potential impacts.”

National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb urges those living along the coast to be prepared for the worst.

“We want people to focus on not what is now, but what it could be,” Knabb said. “The forecast is for a tropical storm but it could also become a hurricane.”  

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