- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) - The National Hurricane Center on Wednesday issued a tropical storm watch for the southern half of Georgia’s 100-mile coast, which could be hit by strong wind and heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Hermine heading into Labor Day weekend.

The watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours from south of Darien, Georgia, to St. Augustine, Florida. The watch area includes the coastal Georgia cities of Brunswick and St. Marys.

The National Park Service said it plans to close Cumberland Island to visitors starting Thursday afternoon. Popular with campers and nature lovers, the island and its roughly 15 square miles of federally protected wilderness are scheduled to reopen Saturday morning unless there’s significant storm damage, the park service said in a news release.

A tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico strengthened into a tropical storm Wednesday. Hermine was forecast to make landfall Thursday night or Friday morning along the northwest coast of Florida. The storm is expected to cross northern Florida and southeast Georgia on Friday.

The hurricane center says coastal Georgia could get 4 to 7 inches of rain, with up to 10 inches possible in some areas. Sustained winds topping 39 mph are also possible.

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