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Hurricane Hermine Batters Florida As Tri-State Area Prepares

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Hurricane Hermine was set to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle overnight, and but outer bands of winds and rain were lashing the Florida coast well before that.

It is the first hurricane to make landfall in the Sunshine State since Wilma 11 years ago.

CBS2's Elise Finch reported as of 11 p.m., Hermine had sustained winds of 80 mph, with a pressure of 984 mbar. It was heading north-northeast at 14 mph and was located 75 miles southwest of Keaton Beach, Florida.

Updates From CBS affiliate WTSP-TV, Tampa Bay/Sarasota


Meanwhile, concerns were mounting Thursday about the risk Hermine poses to the Tri-State Area this coming weekend. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect until further notice for Monmouth and Ocean counties, CBS2's Finch reported.

CBS2's Finch reported clouds and rain are expected to the south in New Jersey on Saturday with rough seas at night. Heavier rain and wind were expected on Sunday.

The area could see as much as two inches of rain, waves of 8 to 12 inches, and coastal flooding.

Late Thursday, the bright lights of the boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach weren't quite overshadowed by hovering clouds, but they reminded people like Jessica Davison that a serious storm is chugging up the coast -- and may wash out the picture perfect plans she had with her daughters.

"It's a big bummer. It was supposed to be our last beach day," Davison told CBS2's Jessica Layton. "That's everything to us, the beach."

There have been rip tide warnings at Point Pleasant Beach and others down the shore all week.

With the new moon and high tides, the threat of big waves and dangerous conditions was growing even stronger as Hurricane Hermine grew closer. In Belmar, lifeguards were telling people not to swim in areas where there are red flags.

Families packing Point Pleasant Thursday night said they were trying to get a head start on their usual end of summer traditions -- knowing rain and wind are heading this way.

"People look forward to being outdoors -- barbecuing, having family over, so hopefully we can still salvage some of that," said Simone Ur of Old Bridge.

Dawn Maniscalco, the manager of Kohr's on the boardwalk, called the hurricane "a huge disappointment."

Maniscalco has been working at Kohr's on the boardwalk for 20 years and says business has been thrown for a forecast twist plenty of times in the past. Given the destruction that Superstorm Sandy left in Point Pleasant Beach, her heart went out to anyone in the direct path of Hermine.

"Hope they prepare and take it seriously," she said.

Earlier in Manasquan and Belmar, local officials were warning beachgoers of strong rip tides from the storm.

"Only swim in front of lifeguards," Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty told 1010 WINS. "If a lifeguard sees you and you're in distress, they can go out and they can get you. But if you're in distress and you're not in visual contact of a lifeguard, it's a tremendous risk to be in that position."

Doherty said his local government is prepared if the shore is hit with heavy wind or rain.

"We received a lot of beach replenishment in 2013 that made our beaches higher and wider, so we're able to absorb some shock from any storm surge that may come our way," Doherty said. "But if we do see something significant, you'll see us build sand berms of anywhere from 6 to 10 feet tall to keep the ocean at bay. We'll lower all of our lakes in town."

The storm could create wave heights of 6 feet or higher Saturday into Sunday and there could be coastal flooding during high tide over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Manasquan is having a record year of beach sales and was hoping for one last boost to the local economy.

"We are seaside community. There's a lot of people here that work in bars, restaurants, bars. A lot of our small merchants downtown all have come to anticipate the strength of the summer season and people down here spending money, and you know, we look forward at least half a good weekend," said Manasquan Council President Owen McCarthy.

People who spoke to CBS2's Baker said they will stick around unless it becomes unsafe.

"Making the best of it -- love it down here," said Spring Lake renter George Ryan.

The main concern in Manasquan is the inlet. The high tides could build on top of each other and flood the low-lying areas.

Emergency officials are keeping a close watch in case anyone has to be evacuated, but that is not expected.

In New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he has directed the State Office of Emergency Management to closely monitor the storm's path and for state agencies to be prepared.

"If the storm continues far enough up the coast, there is a possibility downstate New York may experience high rip currents, heavy rain and strong winds this Labor Day weekend," Cuomo said. "I urge all New Yorkers, especially those in the downstate region, to be prepared, check local weather reports, and use NY Alert to stay updated on the storm's progress throughout the weekend."

For the latest forecast and alerts, click here.

Back in Florida, relentless rainfall, howling winds and rising waters pummeled the Gulf Coast as outer bands from the storm slammed the state. Well before anticipated landfall, the storm had already submerged streets in the coastal town of Gulfport and dumped more than nine inches of rain on parts of the state.

Florida residents are being told to expect up to 20 inches of rain and possible tornadoes. Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 51 counties, and schools in more than 20 counties have been closed.

"We have 8,000 members of our National Guard that are prepared to be mobilized, but you as an individual have to do your part. Have water, three days of water, three days of food. And if you think you might need to go to a shelter, know where a shelter is," Scott told residents.

Scott warned residents that Hermine isn't a storm to take chances with. CBS News' Don Champion reported.

"This is life-threatening," Scott said. "We're going to have significant storm surge –- as much as eight feet. We're going to have significant winds – 70 to 75 mile an hour winds."

Scott repeatedly warned people how dangerous the hurricane would be.

"Remember, remember, remember, we cannot rescue you during a storm," he said.

The coastal town of Apalachicola on the Florida Panhandle is where the eye of Hurricane Hermine was expected to hit early Friday morning -- bringing high winds, as much as 20 inches of rain and 12 feet of storm surge.

"We just buckle down and we pray," said Rodney Brown of Apalachicola.

Hundreds of residents in the Big Bend area of Florida have also been ordered to evacuate. Those close by who decided to stay tied up boats, sandbagged homes and boarded up windows.

"I got shutters on the front, south, and east sides and I've been down here checking on my lines making sure my boat's secure," said Ron Dierols of Apalachicola.

In the city of St. Mark's, the water started rising hours before the hurricane neared. Some residents tried to make the most of it.

Phillip Byron used the last few hours of preparation to stack sandbags outside his newly-renovated real estate office.

"It's just Mother Nature," Byron said. "You just take it as it comes and you do what you can do and hope for the best."

Florida health officials are also warning the storm could hamper efforts to control the mosquito population and minimize the spread of the Zika virus. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, and there will be plenty of that around after Hermine passes by.

(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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