Hurricane Hermine hits Florida, causes heavy rains

Tropical storm Hermine has made landfall in northern Florida, becoming the first hurricane to hit the state in 11 years.

Hermine hit the Florida Gulf Coast early on Friday as a category one hurricane, bringing with it a heavy storm surge.

Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 51 counties as residents were braced for the dangerous storm.

Wind gusts reached 80mph (130km/h), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Two hours after making landfall, as it moved inland, Hermine was downgraded to a tropical storm, the National Weather Service said.

City officials in the state capital Tallahassee, which is in the path of the storm, said at least 70,000 homes were now without power.

Weather officials in the city warned of the risk of flash floods and urged people there to move to higher ground, but winds have now started to reduce.

South of Tallahassee, the town of Cedar Key has seen a 6.6ft (two-metre) storm surge, raising high tide to almost 10ft. Images from the town posted on social media showed significant flooding.

“It is a mess… we have high water in numerous places,” Virgil Sandlin, the police chief in Cedar Key, told the Weather Channel. “I was here in 1985 for Hurricane Elena and I don’t recall anything this bad.”

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