Hurricane Hermine made landfall on Florida’s northwest coast early Friday, flooding streets, toppling trees and knocking down power lines.
The Category 1 hurricane roared ashore from the Gulf of Mexico near St. Marks, which is south of Tallahassee, with sustained winds of 80 mph at around 1:30 a.m. ET. It was moving north-northeast at 14 miles per hour.
Gov. Rick Scott earlier urged residents along a stretch of the coast centered on the so-called Big Bend — the elbow where the state’s peninsula meets the Panhandle — to secure food and water.
He also told them to make sure they had shelter ahead of the “life-threatening” hurricane — the first for the state since Wilma in 2005.
“You can rebuild a home. You can rebuild property,” Scott said. “You cannot rebuild a life.”
The National Weather Service said Hermine was expected to produce rainfall from 5 to 10 inches over much of northwest Florida and southern Georgia through Friday — with possible localized deluges of 20 inches.
A combination of a dangerous storm surge and rising tides will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded, it added.
The NWS warned of “life-threatening inundation within the next 12 to 24 hours” along the Gulf coast from Indian Pass to Longboat Key.
It added that a storm surge of six to nine feet was possible from Ochlockonee River to Yankeetown.
“Significant” wind damage to trees would continue into the morning in northern Florida and southern Georgia, NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins said.
Tornadoes were also a threat along in coastal area of the Southeast over the next 36 hours — although none had been reported as of 2:30 a.m. ET, he added.
“Flash flooding and river flooding will be the biggest story over the next 48 hours” in eastern Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, Karins said.
Crews in Tallahassee scrambled to repair power lines felled by fallen trees and tree limbs as the hurricane approached land, before crews were pulled due to deteriorating conditions, city officials said.
As of shortly after 1 a.m., power was out for 32,000 customers in the city of around 181,000, the local government said on Twitter.
Scott put 51 counties under a state of emergency and ordered all state offices closed Friday.
Forecasters expected Hermine to weaken to a tropical storm by 2 p.m. ET, with wind speeds falling close to 50 mph.
Hermine was likely to travel up the coast — perhaps as far as Boston by Monday.
“We’ve got to watch this thing all the way through the holiday weekend and possibly through much of next week,” The Weather Channel’s Kevin Roth warned.
The storm — which some forecasters were predicting could pause off of New Jersey early next week — would be more dangerous the closer it was to the coast, he added.
Updated three-day forecasts projected a line of heavy rain — as much as 10 inches — stretching from the Gulf coast of north Florida to south Georgia all the way through to Delaware’s Atlantic coast by Sunday night.