After what seems like months of build-up, speculation and watching, Tropical Storm Hermine has finally formed in the Gulf of Mexico. The system still looks somewhat ragged, but its wind speeds have come up, and there’s now the potential for further development before it nears the Florida coast in about 36 hours.
The system has gotten a lot of hype for a mere tropical storm. Part of this is because about a week ago the respected European model really showed strong development (which hasn’t occurred yet), and the fact that it has been nearly three years since a hurricane formed or passed through the Gulf of Mexico. And while this system, formerly known as Invest 99L and Tropical Depression Nine, has been subject to some derision it now should be taken seriously—not only by Florida but much of the east US coast.
Right now this is a big tropical storm, with tropical-storm force winds out to about 100 miles from its center. Those winds may well intensify as the storm has the potential to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane before landfall, although this is far from certain. Hermine also is both a rain (10-15 inches for some locations of Florida is possible) and surge threat to the west coast of Florida. The National Hurricane Center has these threats covered in its rainfall and storm surge products.