TAMPA, Fla. - Intensifying winds from Hurricane Hermine lashed Florida's northern Gulf Coast late on Thursday, as residents stocked up on provisions and some fled to higher ground ahead of what the state's governor warned would be a potentially lethal storm.
Conditions began to deteriorate late Thursday night as winds were reported increasing to 65 kph with driving rains knocking out power for residents in numerous coastal communities.
Located about 70 km south-southeast of Apalachicola, Florida at 11 p.m. local time, it was expected to make landfall early on Friday.
"Hurricane Hermine is strengthening fast and it will impact the majority of our state," Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a late-evening bulletin.
Hermine, expected to become the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005, also posed a Labor Day weekend threat to states along the northern Atlantic Coast that are home to tens of millions of people.