Hurricane Hermine hits Florida

Hundreds of thousands are without power this morning, though the storm has weakened
hurricane A hurricane named Hermine hit Florida's northwestern coast very early this morning. (© Forestpath |

Early Friday morning, Hurricane Hermine made landfall (or reached the land) in northwestern Florida. The state's capital city of Tallahassee was the largest city in the direct path of the storm, though heavy rain and winds have hit much of the state. Almost 200,000 in Tallahassee are currently without power due to trees knocked over by the force of the storm. The highest winds have reached 130 km/h (80 mph). Despite these problems and heavy flooding, no deaths have been reported and people appear safe.

First hurricane in Florida in 11 years

A hurricane is a violent storm that features a wide, swirling mass of high winds and rainfall. Hurricanes are rated on scale that determines their strength. Category 4 is the strongest, 1 the weakest (though a Category 1 hurricane is still a very powerful storm). Hermine was rated as high as 2 just before it hit Florida, but quickly weakened to a 1 as it hit land. A hurricane often weakens as it reaches land (being over the water fuels the storm). It is now rated as a "tropical storm" (which is strong, but just below a hurricane).

Florida Governor Rick Scott spent Thursday issuing strong warnings to citizens. This is the first hurricane to hit Florida in 11 years, which is a bit surprising. Many hurricanes form over the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, and these bodies of water border Florida's coasts. Perhaps because it had been so long since the last hurricane, Gov. Scott didn't want anyone taking Hermine lightly.

He called the hurricane "life-threatening" and reminded citizens that authorities "cannot rescue you during a storm. It’s your job to prepare.”

Thankfully, most citizens listened to his warning. Towns and cities in the path of the storm were heavily evacuated Thursday, meaning that relatively few people were left to face the storm.

Damages relatively low

Though Hermine is still a strong storm, it's not as forceful as the most powerful hurricanes. So while heavy flooding has occurred and it will take time to fully understand the damage caused, this doesn't look like it …will be as disastrous as some recent hurricanes and strong tropical storms. When a heavily populated, low-lying city is hit by a big storm — like New Orleans was in 2005 or New York City in 2012 — it can bring very costly heavy damage. Instead, this part of Florida is mainly marshland with smaller towns. The state’s biggest cities — Miami, Tampa, Orlando — were away from the heart of the storm.

Hermine is now over Georgia. It is expected to move though that state and North and South Carolina over the weekend. It will bring heavy rains and possible flooding, but the dangers there are much lower.

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