Last week when Hermine struck land it was officially a hurricane with winds hitting the Florida coast at about 80 mph and extending about 45 miles from the eye of the storm. It was just a category one storm, but the storm surge was intense in communities along the Gulf. Then, as the hurricane moved over land, it lost strength — exactly what you would expect. But if you thought Hermine's destruction is over and done with, not so quick. Hermine got stronger as it moved east over the Atlantic Ocean.
Early Monday morning the storm, classified as a "post-tropical cyclone," was about 295 miles southeast of Long Island with winds of about 70 mph according to the National Weather Service. Thanks to its current position over the ocean, the storm is expected to maintain hurricane-strength winds, staying at its current strength until Tuesday morning, when it will begin to gradually weaken. It is expected to move slightly toward the northwest but will stay over the ocean.
Even at that distance from land, it is expected to affect the East Coast with huge waves, storm surges and dangerous currents, everywhere from Virginia to southern New England. Storm warnings are in effect for much of the area including much of Long Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. Here's the warning from the NWS:
Large waves generated by Hermine will affect the U.S. east coast from the mid-Atlantic states and expand northward along the coast of southern New England through tonight. These waves are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, and significant beach erosion.
Rain will mostly stay off the coast, but there could be some in southeastern Massachusetts. Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami explained it succinctly when speaking with The Wall Street Journal. "If the Labor Day celebrations are on the beach, yeah that’s going to be a problem," he told the paper.
Otherwise you should be good, given that the storm moved further east than expected. New Jersey was expected to be hit hard, but tropical storm warnings were lifted. The wave and rip tide warnings still apply to the area, though. That coupled with the cloudy skies over New Jersey's coast, and you might want to adjust your Labor Day celebrations if they included time at the beach.
None of the damage is expected to reach levels seen in Florida, Georgia, or North Carolina. The storm caused two deaths. A 65-year-old man was sleeping in a tent 65 miles northwest of Orlando as the storm approached. A tree fell on him Friday. The other death occurred in North Carolina Saturday when a tractor-trailer flipped over while crossing a bridge, killing the driver.
In Florida the storm was the first to touch land in 11 years. It damaged homes, caused widespread flooding, and downed trees, which in turn blocked roads and cut power to more than 250,000 people, the Los Angeles Times reported. Even as far as Georgia, the storm knocked over traffic lights. Larry Hanson, the city manager of Valdosta, Georgia, told the paper that cleanup efforts will continue for weeks. "The amount of debris on city streets and in private yards and properties is overwhelming," he told the Times.
The current position of the storm may have saved the northeast this Labor Day, but stay tuned in the coming days. With mother nature, even computer models are never 100 percent.