Tropical Storm Hermine was upgraded to Hurricane Hermine on Thursday afternoon as it approached the Gulf Coast of Florida on its way up the East Coast toward North Carolina.
The storm will lose some of its punch as it crosses land, but will likely remain a tropical storm with heavy rain and gusty winds when it crosses Eastern North Carolina late Friday into Saturday. The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning for almost the entire North Carolina coast from the South Carolina state line north to Duck, saying winds could gust to 50 mph.
The storm isn’t expected to cause much coastal flooding, but the heavy rain – up to 10 inches in some areas east of the Triangle – will likely cause flash flooding, forecasters say. Isolated tornadoes are also possible.
Gov. Pat McCrory issued a state of emergency for 33 eastern counties that are expected to experience the worst of the storm and urged people to be prepared for heavy rain, wind and possible flooding.
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“We are working together across multiple agencies throughout North Carolina to make sure we are over prepared and underwhelmed for this storm because we want people to safely enjoy their Labor Day vacation in North Carolina,” McCrory said in a statement. “Safety always remains our top priority.”
Hyde County issued a mandatory evacuation order Thursday for visitors on Ocracoke Island.
The storm also will bring heavy rain to the Triangle, where the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. The weather service says between 2 to 5 inches of rain are possible in the area during that time, with higher amounts in some places. It warns people in flood-prone areas to take precautions.
The wind in the Triangle will be less severe than at the coast, but gusts could top 30 mph, particularly along the Interstate 95 corridor, the weather service said.
The storm will follow a cold front that spawned thunderstorms in the Triangle on Thursday afternoon and evening. There will be little break in the clouds before Hermine arrives on Friday.
The storm is expected to head out to sea in time for a sunny Sunday and Monday to salvage the long Labor Day weekend.
For the latest on Hermine, go to the National Hurricane Center webpage, www.nhc.noaa.gov/.