Hermine's maximum sustained winds Thursday morning are near 60 miles per hour (95 kph). City crews were struggling to keep up with demand for sand with sandbags.
Storm surge flooding in some areas along the Gulf Coast could reach up to 8 feet.
Florida's Gulf coast is bracing Thursday for a hit from Tropical Storm Hermine, which forecasters say could make landfall as a hurricane.
The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning covering an area that extends from Marineland, Florida, northward to the South Santee River in SC.
A hurricane warning remained in effect for the Suwannee River to Mexico Beach.
With the tropical storm approaching, intensifying winds threaten to make outside preparations "difficult or risky", it added.
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As Tropical Storm Hermine aims toward Florida's Gulf Coast, residents in the Big Bend area are getting ready for possible storm surge and heavy rain.
The hurricane center also said in an advisory that another storm, Hurricane Gaston, will move near the Azores on Friday.
Flooding is expected across a wide swath of the Big Bend area, which has a mostly marshy coastline. He said he was mostly anxious about the new equipment he'd recently purchased for the waterfront restaurant.
Portions of five counties in Florida - Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor, Dixie, and Levy - have mandatory evacuations, Gov. Scott said, urging residents to take the evacuations seriously.
"This building right here is pretty safe and pretty strong so I think it will be all right", Keeton said.
Governor Rick Scott declared yesterday a state of emergency in 51 counties to free up resources to brace for the storm.
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Friday night lights will be Thursday night lights in many areas of SC this week.
Areas on the western side of the storm could see between 10 and 15 inches of rain while east of it rainfall totals could reach 20 inches, potentially leading to flash flooding.
SEVERE WEATHER: With a more inland track of the system, the presence of higher wind shear may cause a higher chance of a few storm cells to harness that spin and could produce a tornado or two.
The center also expanded a tropical storm watch from Georgia into SC.
Tropical Storm Hermine could be a Category 1 hurricane by the time it hits Florida's northern Gulf coast early Friday if forecasts hold, which would make it the state's first hurricane in 11 years, the National Hurricane Center said. Offshore waters will likely experience the worst period through Friday and Saturday, where seas will likely be between 6 - 10 feet.
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