US East Coast braces as Florence forecast to intensify into major hurricane


The National Hurricane Center said the storm was expected to continuing growing in strength through the day.

Almost all of the North Carolina and SC coasts are included in the cone of uncertainty for the storm and the latest model Saturday night showed the storm making landfall in Wilmington.

North and SC and Virginia have all declared states of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Florence. After passing the Cabo Verde Islands the system was not expected to pose a direct threat to land for at least several days.

Hurricane Florence strengthened on Sunday as it moved toward the United States, while officials from Florida to Virginia warned residents to prepare for the worst.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam´s office described Florence as possibly the state´s "most significant hurricane event in decades", warning of "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages".

Swells generated by Florence could cause unsafe rip currents and coastal flooding Saturday in areas including coastal DE and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said. Another disturbance in the eastern Atlantic has a 40% chance of organizing into a tropical depression.

The storm's sustained winds reached 75 mph (121 kph), just over the threshold for a hurricane, on Sunday morning as it was swirling across the Atlantic, about 750 miles (1,210 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda. It was about 1,500 miles from the easternmost Caribbean islands on Sunday and may become a hurricane by Monday.

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SC coastal areas can expect tropical storm force winds by Thursday morning on the storm's latest track, according to John Quagliariello from the National Weather Service in Columbia.

In addition, in the Pacific, what's now Hurricane Olivia is forecast to approach Hawaii as a tropical storm on Tuesday. Over the next 24 to 48 hours, wind shear around Florence will continue to decrease allowing the storm to rapidly intensify.

Florence is moving toward the west near 6 miles per hour (9 km/h), and this general motion was expected to continue on Sunday.

The storm's center was on track to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Wednesday, the NHC said. Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune urged residents to secure their homes but said it's too early to know if evacuations will be ordered.

One, Hurricane Florence, is already cause 85-mph winds expected to become an "extremely dangerous" major hurricane. The forecast showed Isaac tracking south of Puerto Rico as it strengthened into a hurricane.

PETERSBURG — Two hurricanes are active in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Hurricane Center.