Hermine downgraded to tropical storm after making landfall

Hurricane becomes first to hit Florida in 10 years

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Hermine has weakened to a tropical storm after making landfall early Friday morning. 

The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just east of St. Marks about 1:30 a.m. Friday, with wind speeds at 80 mph. 

Shortly after coming ashore, Hermine was downgraded to a tropical storm as winds decreased to 70 mph.

It was the first hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Wilma struck South Florida in 2005.

Heavy rain has already caused flooding in many areas of Tampa, St. Petersburg and other coastal areas of Pasco and Pinellas counties. 

Residents in some low-lying communities in Florida were being asked to evacuate as the first hurricane to hit the state in 10 years approached.

"The biggest concern is with the storm surge," Local 10 News hurricane specialist Max Mayfield said.

Mayfield, who is the former director of the National Hurricane Center, said 5 to 10 inches of rain is expected in the area.

One man in Apalachicola told Local 10 News reporter Andrew Perez that he is going to ride out the storm on his boat.

"Yeah, as the water comes up, you gotta stay on the boat so you can loosen the lines and tighten the lines in case the storm's bad enough where your boat lets loose," the man said.

Richard Davis, who owns a liquor store in the area, said he will stay open for business as long as he's able to.

"Flooding is the big thing," Davis said. "The wind and the rain is no big deal, but if it floods and we get water in the Honey Hole (Liquors), then we're going to have a problem, but that's the biggest thing -- storm surge."

Emergency management officials in Franklin County issued a mandatory evacuation notice for people living on St. George Island, Dog Island, Alligator Point and Bald Point. Residents in other low-lying areas that are prone to flooding are also being asked to evacuate.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Florida's Big Bend from the Suwannee River to Mexico Beach.

A tropical storm warning was extended northward for the Atlantic coast to Surf City, North Carolina, with a tropical storm watch from north of Surf City to Oregon Inlet, North Carolina.

To stay up to date on the all the latest storm news, download the Max Tracker app for iOS and ANDROID and download a copy of the Local 10 Hurricane Survival Guide to make sure you're ready for a storm.

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