National Hurricane Center says Hermine has strengthened to a hurricane

UPDATE: (3:08 p.m. 9/1/16) - National Hurricane Center says Hermine has strengthened to a hurricane.

People from the Florida Panhandle down to the Tampa area braced Thursday for Hurricane Hermine, as it lashes the area with strong winds and potentially dangerous storm surge.

Hermine was set to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday, forecasters said. A hurricane warning was in effect for Florida's Big Bend from the Suwannee River to Mexico Beach. And on the East Coast, a tropical storm warning was issued for an area that extended from Marineland, Florida, northward to the South Santee River in South Carolina.

Hermine marked part of a one-two punch of severe storms hitting the U.S. as Tropical Storm Madeline pummeled shorelines of Hawaii's Big Island. The storm was downgraded from hurricane strength on Wednesday but still packed winds reaching 50 mph on Thursday as it passed by the island.

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