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Hurricane Hermine hits Florida, weakens to tropical storm

The first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in 11 years caused one death and left tens of thousands without power. It weakened to a tropical storm but could strengthen as it moves up the East Coast.
2 Sep 2016 – 10:53 AM EDT
Hannah Coles, 9, in Gulfport, Florida, braves the rain from Hermine. Crédito: AP

Hurricane Hermine slammed into Florida's northern Gulf Coast early Friday, dumping heavy rain, causing a storm surge and leaving thousands of homes without power. It's the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since 2005.

With winds of 80 mph, the Category 1 storm made landfall near St. Marks, Florida around 1:30 a.m. and reached Georgia around 5 a.m. Florida Governor Rick Scott said one person had died due to a fallen a tree and that 253,000 lost power. Another 48,000 lost power in Georgia, the AP reported.

Waters rose to 9.5 feet in Florida's Cedar Key, one of the highest surges ever seen, according to the National Weather Service. The storm surge also caused major damage along the coast of Taylor County, Florida, according to local police.

By 8:00 a.m., Hermine weakened to a tropical storm with 60 mph winds, the National Hurricane Center reported. The storm is expected to reach the Carolinas Friday, where it will bring torrential rain.

While Hermine is slowing, it could strengthen to close to hurricane force again as it moves up the East Coast on Monday or Tuesday, reported the Weather Channel's Wunderground blog.

The Atlantic coast can expect 12-17 named storms this year, and between 5 and 8 are expected to become hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The last hurricane to make landfall in Florida was Wilma in 2005. A Category 5, it killed 25 people and left widespread damage in south Florida.