Hundreds of schools have been closed in the Southeast and a state of emergency has been declared in more than 50 Florida counties as Hurricane Hermine’s outer bands began bringing waves and rain to Southern Georgia by about 6 PM this evening, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Just before that, Tropical Storm Hermine strengthened to a hurricane and forced the closure of schools in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
8pm – Hurricane Hermine is strengthening as it approaches Florida. Wind up to 80 mph, gusts to 90 mph. pic.twitter.com/K3JeSwbAMz
— Brad Nitz (@BradNitzWSB) September 1, 2016
Kickoffs for three football games between schools in Beaufort County, South Carolina, including May River’s home debut against Whale Branch, were rescheduled for noon Saturday, depending on field conditions after Hermine passes through the area, the Beaufort Gazette reported. In Jasper County, Ridgeland-Hardeeville’s home game against Allendale-Fairfax was postponed until 1:30 Saturday, again, depending on field conditions.
Gov Nathan Deal in Georgia declared a state of emergency in 56 counties in the southeast part of that state. “We are working to ensure counties in south, central, and coastal Georgia have access to the state resources necessary to prepare and respond when Hermine enters Georgia,” he was quoted as saying in a news release. “Our Emergency Operations Command will continue closely monitoring this storm, and additional counties may be included in this declaration as needed.”
Officials just canceled 23 football games in Georgia, according to the Journal-Constitution. WTXL-TV (ABC affiliate, Midway, Florida) reported that about 20 games in the area would be played as scheduled, while about 20 were canceled.
The hurricane was expected to make landfall at about 11 PM Thursday, when it will become the first hurricane-strength storm to hit Florida since 2005. Sustained winds two hours later were forecast to be around 80 mph, making this a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Forecast models are calling for between 3 and 5 inches of rain to fall on the region within a 24-hour period beginning Friday morning. A Category 1 hurricane will produce very dangerous winds, the National Hurricane Center says, and “some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.”