Hermine Heads North as Holiday Weekend Kicks Off

(CNN) — Any Labor Day weekend plans that included a beach trip may have to be changed for residents living in coastal areas from Virginia to Connecticut as Hermine picks up speed on its way north, forecasters say.

“Wind and water hazards of a variety of kinds are things we have to contend with throughout Labor Day weekend,” National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb said Saturday. “Certainly a bad weekend to be on the beach and on boats.”

Greg and Margee Germaine were celebrating a wedding anniversary at Atlantic City, having cocktails on the beach and getting blasted by sand.

They said they were still enjoying their time at the shore.

“It may not be swimming weather, but it’s been beautiful,” Margee Germaine said.

The National Weather Service said the winds there were 25 mph, with gusts of 35 mph.

Strengthening expected

The storm, which smashed into Florida’s Panhandle as a Category 1 hurricane Friday morning, hit the Carolinas as a tropical storm later in the day. It is expected to strengthen again sometime Sunday as it moves out into the Atlantic Ocean, but it will still send heavy rains and potential flooding into the Northeast.

“At a minimum, we’re going to have some beach erosion, rip currents and dangerous waves all the way from the south facing shores of New England, Cape Cod, Nantucket … down to the Hampton Roads area,” Knabb said.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency Saturday for Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties.

“The impending weather conditions constitute an imminent hazard,” he said in a statement. “This situation may become too large in scope to be handled by the normal county and municipal operating services.”

In Atlantic City, Elizabeth Brister, 23, saw her Labor Day weekend plans blow away in the wind.

“Right now, it’s looking like we’re not having much of any beach fun,” she told CNN. “I was just pelted in the face with sand and I actually have sand in my contact right now. It kind of hurts.”

Hermine could reach wind speeds of 75 miles per hour as it strengthens Sunday, forecasters say.

“That strengthening could impact places from Nantucket, Cape Cod, New York City, even up and down the New Jersey coast,” said CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

“The combination of a storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. There is a danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 24 hours in the Hampton Roads area,” said the latest advisory from the Hurricane Center.

“There is also the possibility of life-threatening inundation during the next 48 hours at most coastal locations between the North Carolina/Virginia border and Bridgeport, Connecticut,” the advisory added.

Labor Day cancellations

Because of concerns about rough seas, dangerous surf and strong storm surge, no swimming will be allowed on New York beaches Sunday. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is considering closing them Monday and Tuesday, too.

“We’ll see how the storm develops. People can walk on the beach and be on the sand, just not in the water,” he said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency for 12 counties along the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe warned Friday that people faced a strong possibility of “life-threatening” storm surges in coastal areas over the weekend.

Two deaths reported

When Hermine ripped into St. Marks in Florida’s Big Bend region just before 2 a.m. Friday, it became the first hurricane to come ashore in the state since Wilma struck 11 years ago.

One person died in Florida as Hermine approached. John Mayes, 56, was sleeping in a tent behind a gas station in Ocala, about 65 miles northwest of Orlando, when a tree fell onto him Thursday night, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.

A medical examiner’s office has yet to determine whether the storm was the cause, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.

One person died Saturday when a tractor-trailer overturned while crossing a bridge in eastern North Carolina amid high winds from Hermine, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Public Safety, Michael Baker, said. The identity of the truck driver has not been released.