Hermine destructive path may be gone but not forgotten. It was almost a month ago, on August 18, 2016, that the National Hurricane Center spotted a tropical wave that had the potential to develop into the ninth tropical depression, and also the eighth named storm. Little did they know that before that day was over, Hurricane Hermine would be born and the fourth storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season would be on its way.
Although it was thought to be a minor storm, by the time it was over, five would lose their lives and the cyclone would affect the countries of Dominican Republic, Cuba, and the Southeastern United States, costing more than $500 million worth of damage.
This long-tracked tropical wave would cross the Lesser and the Greater Antilles and then hit the shoreline of the Dominican Republic. All over the country, the storm raised the rivers and destroyed over 200 homes, causing over 1,000 people to become displaced. It did not spare Cuba, as it damaged its gas lines and dumped heavy amounts of rain.
While in the tropical stage, Hermine grew into a Category 1 hurricane and by late Thursday, it hit the Big Bend area of Florida. The storm was considered weak because it did not have an eye. However, this is not uncommon in the case of weak hurricanes, but Hermine would not be counted out yet, bands of strong thunderstorms began to develop near the center causing it to increase in intensity.
Hermine battered Florida and then crossed over into the Atlantic off the Outer Banks in North Carolina, by Saturday. However, Tallahassee had felt the brunt of this determined storm, as Hermine tore down power lines, thrust trees all over the intersections and damaged street lights, leaving companies and stores running to withstand the petition for supplies.
Hermine was the first hurricane to hit Tallahassee in 30 years, dumping five inches of rain to the city. Over 58 percent of homes lost power, as well as about 80 percent of the city proper, along with Florida State University.
In spite of being comparatively weak, some tried to match Hermine with other powerful hurricanes – including a category 5 hurricane that smashed Florida in 1935. The storm was known as the Labor Day Hurricane that ripped through the state at record speeds of 300 kilometers per hour. It was the most powerful and violent hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States.
However, even though the 1935 hurricane wrath was unmatched, it still did not surpass Hermine 500 million dollars worth of damage compared to Labor Day Hurricane’s 6 million.
Hermine was responsible for tremendous flooding across the four states affected, causing 400,000 homes to lose power and killing two people. One of those people were John Mayes, 56, who died in Florida as Hermine came ashore. While Mayes was sleeping in a tent, behind a gas station in Ocala a tree fell on him, smashing his body.
On Saturday, September 3, another person perished when a tractor-trailer toppled while going over a bridge in eastern North Carolina due to the high winds from the storm. However, by the time it hit Georgia, the storm was reduced to a Tropical Storm and finally became a “post-tropical hurricane.”
Social media tried to compare Hermine to Sandy. In numerous ways, there were some resemblances. However, these storms were vastly poles apart. Even though indeed a threat, Hermine was not on the same playing field as Sandy, but like her, left thousands without electricity and homes.
According to CT Post, before passing off into history as one of the most bizarre shaped storms, Hurricane Hermine destructive path would trail through South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, leaving 274,000 homes without power. The hurricane would leave behind cars smashed by falling trees, flooded roads, plus it spawned a few tornadoes.
Hermine’s last stop caused a rough surf just on eastern Long Island, which caused two fishermen to drown after it dragged them into the ocean by the Wading River. From there, the stubborn storm weakened and faded out in the Atlantic Ocean, leaving behind a short but destructive path that will be forever remembered.
By Jomo Merritt
Edited by Cathy Milne
The Washington Post: How Hermine was part hurricane, part nor’easter
Forbes: Messaging Hermine: Did We Learn from Hurricane Sandy?
CT Post: Hermine was no Sandy or Gloria or Irene here
Image Courtesy of Zooey’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License