By Steven Strouss

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — We continue to monitor Tropical Storm Hermine (pronounced her-MEEN, for those who are not familiar) as she strengthens and spins in the Gulf of Mexico.

As of this morning, Hermine is about 200 miles west of Tampa, Florida and has winds of 65 mph. Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings are in effect from NW Florida and stretch across to the South Carolina beaches.

Confidence is growing that our Labor Day weekend will be impacted by this storm, especially along the coast where conditions may deteriorate as early as Saturday evening.

Hermine is moving northeast and is expected to reach Hurricane status before it crosses northern Florida early Friday morning.

We still need time to fine-tune our forecast on potential impacts but as of this writing, here are my thoughts.

– Rain could begin as early as Saturday evening from south to north

– Height of the storm would be Sunday morning through Sunday afternoon, with potentially heavy rainfall and gusty winds along the coast

– Total rainfall amounts could be between 1-3″ but higher across eastern NJ and southern DE

– Wind gusts may reach 30-50 mph, especially along the coast

– There may be moderate coastal flooding

– Rough surf/high waves at the shore

– Dangerous rip currents are expected through next week. Beachgoers should check with lifeguards

– There may be tidal flooding along the Delaware Bay

– Some beach erosion is possible

– Power outages are possible

– Precip may linger into early Labor Day morning

This is a tricky storm because it is still developing and a track farther east (indicated by one of our models will limit all the impacts mentioned above.)

A track farther west will bring in more rain and wind to the region. Regardless, this is a storm with an abundance of tropical moisture likely to produce flash flooding across the Southeast United States.

The impacts are also difficult to gauge because the storm may linger off the coast for a few days prolonging coastal concerns. Ultimately a track 50 miles east or west will make a huge difference as there will be a sharp cutoff from rain to no rain.

The main point is that everyone should prepare for these potential impacts and hope that the storm takes the eastern track once it emerges off of the Carolina Coast on Saturday. For now, we kept the forecast dry through the first half of the weekend and added the potential for rain and wind on Sunday.

The CBS3 Eyewitness Weather Team will be monitoring this storm closely and updating you on the latest track and impacts.

-Steven

Just to be clear, this is by no means a Sandy situation or anything close. It’s been four years since that devastating storm and the atmospheric dynamics with Hermine, and the patterns driving the storm, are completely different. With that said, the greatest impacts will still be at the coast because those locations will be closest to the storms center.