Tropical Storm Hermine strengthens in gulf

- Tropical Storm Hermine strengthened Wednesday afternoon as it continued to meander through the Gulf of Mexico.  Meanwhile, a tropical storm warning remains in effect for parts of the Tampa Bay area.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Hermine's winds had reached 45 mph and the storm was drifting north-northeast at 7 mph.

The tropical storm warning area stretches from the Anclote River in Pasco County northward to Destin in north Florida.  A hurricane watch was previously issued from the Anclote River to Indian Pass and was also extended west to Destin.  

The latest track has Hermine continuing toward the north with a turn to the northeast expected Thursday.

The center of the storm is expected to approach the northwest Florida coast Thursday evening, slightly further west than earlier preictions.

Meteorologists predict that the Tampa Bay area will likely receive the heaviest rain on Thursday. Flooding is also possible, especially in the coastal areas. Sandbags are available for residents around the Tampa Bay area.

Thursday classes have already been canceled for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando, Citrus, Pasco, and Manatee counties.  Polk and Sarasota planned to stay open.

For more information on Hermine and other storm systems, visit MyFoxHurricane.

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