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Tropical Storm Hermine could affect LI’s Labor Day

A National Weather Service graphic shows possible wind

A National Weather Service graphic shows possible wind speeds stemming from Tropical Storm Hermine between the dates of Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016 and Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. Credit: NWS

Long Islanders looking ahead to Labor Day weekend will also want to keep a close eye on the track of a tropical storm that’s now in the Gulf of Mexico.

Weekend weather conditions on the Island could be affected by Tropical Storm Hermine (pronounced her-MEEN), set to make landfall Thursday along the bend in Florida’s northwest coast.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there was “a one in three chance” for Long Island to experience direct or indirect impacts from the storm, said Gary Conte, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton.

Forecasters have been “receiving more and more signals” through computer models that Long Island could experience some impacts, which could include “tropical storm-force winds and or heavy rain” from late day Saturday through early Monday, he said. There’s also a potential for flooding, storm surge and beach erosion.

“As is normal with storms like this, there will probably be some changes in the forecast — but right now, a shift far enough out to sea to completely miss Long Island is not likely,” said Bill Korbel, News 12 meteorologist. “Not hurricane conditions, but not what we want to see on the Labor Day weekend.”

At the very least for Long Island, there’s high confidence in “dangerous rip currents and high surf” continuing at Atlantic-facing beaches through the weekend, Conte said.

The National Hurricane Center’s Wednesday update called for Hermine to continue its northeast path across Florida and Georgia, with expectations for it to head up to North Carolina by Friday into Saturday.

Indeed, the center’s late afternoon update shifted the track farther to the west, keeping the storm over land as it heads northeast — but that path is not set in stone, said Faye Barthold, also a weather service meteorologist in Upton. As further data come in, there could be different shifts, she said.

If the center’s forecast “is even close to being accurate, we will see gusty winds and some heavy rain showers by Sunday,” Korbel said.

Expect the scenario to come into better focus as of Friday, Conte said.

Meanwhile, swells from Hurricane Gaston, which has stayed well out to sea, have resulted in high rip current risks this week at Atlantic-facing beaches.

As Gaston moves out of the picture, a tropical depression, well off the North Carolina coast on Wednesday, will keep the rip current danger going, Conte said, to be followed by Hermine — the “new player.”

If Saturday does turn out to be “beautiful, a sunny day,” he said, beachgoers are still strongly advised to stick close to lifeguards and heed their instructions.

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