RICHMOND, Va. -- The system that was known as Tropical Depression Nine became Tropical Storm Hermine at 2 p.m. Wednesday. An Air Force reconnaissance aircraft found that maximum sustained winds had increased to 40 mph. The threshold for tropical storms is 39 mph.
By Wednesday evening, winds were up to 45 mph and the center was located a little over 300 miles away from the Florida coast.
The forecast track is to turn to the northeast and make a landfall in Florida during Thursday night near Apalachicola. The storm is then forecast to track across southeastern Georgia. After that point, there is still a lot of uncertainty.
The majority of the computer models had been taking the center near the Outer Banks. However, our more recent computer models are trending farther northward, bringing the center through central or eastern North Carolina. After that, the storm could potentially track near or across Virginia.
Local impacts, should this closer track verify, would be a period of heavy rainfall Friday night into Saturday. A more inland track would help decrease the wind strength of the system, but gusts over 30 mph will still be possible. A more inland track would also create a risk of isolated tornadoes across eastern Virginia.
Regardless of the track, waves and rip currents will be greatly increased for the entire holiday weekend. Current wave forecasts are showing the potential for wave heights to exceed eight feet.
One very important thing to keep in mind: the computer models are developing these forecasts based on the data fed into them. The system has been over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, so it is not over a massive data network or where weather balloons are launched. The data have been gathered from occasional aircraft reconnaissance and through satellites.
As more comprehensive data is available Thursday into Thursday night, the computer models will have a better foundation to work off of. At this point, the proximity to Virginia on Saturday is very much uncertain. The forecast track will be updated many times over the next few days, and the potential path of the system will likely change. Stay tuned for further updates.
The latest information is available in the CBS 6 Hurricane Tracker.