(FOX 13) - Hurricane Hermine rapidly intensified as it approached Florida's Big Bend area late Thursday evening. The 'life-threatening' storm made landfall just after midnight Friday.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm's top sustained winds clocked 80 mph as the storm bore down on northwest Florida.
Landfall near Big Bend and Apalachicola - which are mostly rural and lightly populated areas where the Florida peninsula meets the Panhandle - did not eliminate the threat of severe damage from the storm.
Hermine was expected to reach land, and then drop back down to a tropical storm and push into Georgia, the Carolinas and up the East Coast with the potential for drenching rain and deadly flooding.
Gov. Rick Scott warned of the danger of strong storm surge, high winds, downed trees and power outages, and had urged people during the day to move to inland shelters if necessary and make sure they had enough food, water and medicine.
"This is a life-threatening situation," Scott said. "It's going to be a lot of risk. Right now, I want everybody to be safe."
In the Bay Area, many coastal areas dealt with flooding, which caused issues with sewer systems and roadways.
Tornado warnings were issued until 8 a.m. for Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas, and a handful of other Florida counties.
Cedar Key saw record-level flooding, with storm surge at 6-feet above sea level around 1 a.m. Coastal Citrus County was hit especially hard, just as the storm made landfall, by a far-reaching squall line with heavy rains and strong straight-line winds.
Areas further north in the Florida Panhandle were seeing storm surges upwards of 12-feet.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
For more information on Hermine and other storm systems, visit MyFoxHurricane.