A hurricane warning for a part of Northern Florida remained in effect Thursday as federal officials warned that a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico had strengthened into a hurricane.
Officials said the storm, known as Hurricane Hermine, could make landfall on the Florida coast as early as late Thursday. Hermine—currently moving Northeast with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour—would be the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since 2005, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report. A tropical storm warning covers other parts of Florida and South Carolina.
“This is a life-threatening situation,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at a news conference. “It’s going to be a lot of risk. Right now, I want everybody to be safe.”
Officials warned that storm surge may be particularly threatening for coastal residents as a result of Hermine. Storm surge, a key factor in devastating storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, occurs when storm wind pushes sea water ashore that has already been elevated.
Weather forecasters predicted earlier this year that 2016 would see an uptick in the number of hurricanes after several years of relative calm.