UPDATE (1PM) -- A TROPICAL STORM WARNING has been extended farther south to include coastal Sarasota County to Englewood.
A band of heavy rainfall with tropical storm force winds is spreading into coastal Sarasota County. Winds have been gusting near Venice to near tropical storm force (40 mph) within the last hour.
Expect deteriorating conditions through the afternoon as Tropical Storm Hermine makes its way toward the Big Bend.
The rest of Southwest Florida will see occasional heavier downpours and breezy conditions through the rest of the afternoon.
- Chief Meteorologist Derek Beasley
Tropical Storm Hermine continues to move toward the Florida Panhandle coast. The storm has steadily strengthened overnight with top winds as of early Thursday morning of 65 mph.
Some additional strengthening is expected as it nears the coast late Thursday night into early Friday despite the storm dealing with some dry air and southwesterly wind shear.
Impacts on SWFL will be mainly restricted to slightly higher tides than normal and some minor coastal water rises. Winds will turn more out of the southwest on Friday and this may increase the risk for rip currents heading into the later Friday and the first part of the weekend. Bands of rain will develop and stream northward across the state, but the heaviest rain will stay well north of the region, closer to the track of the storm. An additional 1-2” is possible with some of the rain bands that form Thursday and Friday.
Based on the latest projections, the center will make landfall somewhere in Wakulla Co./Franklin Co. near Carrabelle/Apalachicola by early Friday morning as a minimal hurricane. The storm will not weaken much as it crosses Tallahassee on Friday, where the potential exists for wind damage from tropical storm force winds and hurricane force wind gusts. The tornado threat will increase as well near and to the east of the center from the I-4 corridor northward into southern Georgia.
Rainfall totals may exceed 10” in some areas of the eastern Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend region through Friday afternoon.
The storm is then expected to track into the Carolinas, Virginia, then stall offshore of the mid-Atlantic states for Labor Day weekend. This will create problems for those wanting a last minute vacation along the Maryland Eastern Shore to the Jersey Shore, Long Island to Cape Cod. Based on some of the forecast model data, strong winds could affect some of the larger metros along I-95 from DC to Philadelphia and New York City.
The weather should return to typical SWFL weather by this weekend as Hermine moves away. A few scattered storms will stick around on Saturday, but lower coverage of rain, more sunshine and hotter temperatures will return to the area Sunday into Labor Day.
--Chief Meteorologist Derek Beasley