Hurricane Florence is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall as it approaches the mid-Atlantic Coast of the United States, forecasters said Tuesday.
By Saturday evening, Florence was located 810 miles southeast of Bermuda, and had winds of 70 mph. It was centered about 1,230 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west at 13 mph. Major hurricanes are those reaching Category 3 or higher, meaning sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour.
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, but officials say it is expected to become a hurricane by Monday.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center have said Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe storm by the time it nears the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday. It is important to note that there is considerable uncertainty five days out, making it too soon to determine the magnitude and timing of potential major impacts to the East Coast. But forecasters said that the risk of "direct impacts continues to increase" and that a huge coastal area from northern Florida to North Carolina should prepare for a major hit.
This, unfortunately will mean that Florence has a much higher chance of affecting the USA east coast by later in the week. (Also important note, a Category 5 Hurricane has never made landfall on North Carolina) Florence is unique however because it's nearly taking a beeline course to the coastline.
Mindful of devastation wrought by a string of deadly US hurricanes a year ago, jittery residents in the Carolinas began the rituals of disaster preparation - boarding up windows and stocking up on groceries, water and gasoline.
Hurricane Helene, was spinning in the Atlantic off West Africa's Cabo Verde Islands with 85-mph (140-kph) winds on Sunday, but did not appear to pose an immediate threat to land.
Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents to prepare for lengthy power outages after the hurricane arrives and learn evacuation routes they may need to take.
The National Hurricane Center forecasts Florence will be a risky major hurricane near the southeastern US coast by late next week, "and the risk of direct impacts continues to increase".
"I dont think many of us have ever been through a Category 4". Florence is expected to remain an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Isaac is holding steady in strength over the Atlantic as it heads westward.
Meteorologist Eric Holthaus warned on Twitter that it could become one of the worst storms in U.S. history.
The hurricane will pass through Bermuda before hitting the East Coast. Tropical storm force winds and some rain bands will likely begin Wednesday night, regardless of the actual landfall of the storm.
Winds could reach upwards of 150 miles per hour with catastrophic flooding.