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Tropical Storm Hermine Barreling Toward Florida's Gulf Coast; Worries Mount About Tri-State

CLEARWATER, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Tropical Storm Hermine is gaining strength as it rumbles toward Florida's Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, worries were mounting about the effects of the storm on the Tri-State Area this weekend.

CBS affiliate WTSP-TV, Tampa Bay/Sarasota reported Hermine was moving faster and faster and was headed north-northeast at 10 mph. As of 11 p.m. it was expected to continue to bring rounds of heavy rain through Thursday night into early Friday.

Forecasters say Hermine could be near hurricane strength by Thursday night as it approaches the Gulf Coast. Authorities say they've extended a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning from the Anclote River northwest of Tampa to Destin in the Florida Panhandle.

CBS2's Don Champion reported that parts of the Florida Gulf Coast are already getting soaked, including low-lying areas which were quickly flooded.

Gulfport resident Debbie Deady said she was already fighting ankle-deep water as she was putting sandbags outside her mother's house.

"The water has been really bad. We actually have a pump inside ready to go to flow out the water out here," Deady said.

Hermine is expected to start a slow turn to the northeast and make landfall early Friday morning near the panhandle.

Flooding is a big concern along the coast as some places could see up to 15 inches of rain. Strong winds could also pose a problem for residents.

Gov. Rick Scott said the state is prepared.

"Our utilities have already pre-positioned themselves around the state, so they'll be working diligently to get us back up," Scott said.

A tropical storm warning also continues on the Atlantic seaboard from Marineland, Florida, to the Altamaha Sound in Georgia.

While models are not in agreement, the Tri-State Area could soon feel the effects of the storm from late Saturday into Monday.

As CBS2's Elise Finch reported, many models take Hermine well offshore, but some take it very close to the Tri-State Area. The area could be impacted by both rain and winds on Sunday and Monday.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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