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article imageHurricane Florence gaining strength as it heads toward US coast

By Karen Graham     Sep 9, 2018 in Environment
Wilmington - Tropical Storm Florence has been upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane and is expected to regain major hurricane status (Category 3 or higher) as it continues to track toward the west, entering a favorable environment for intensification early this week.
Confidence in the models is increasing among meteorologists that hurricane Florence will pose a direct threat to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States later this week. Three states, including South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia have already declared states of emergency in preparation for the storm's impact.
As of 11:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center reports that Florence is about 750 miles (1,210 kilometers) southeast of the Bahamas and 610 miles (985 kilometers) northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph (120 kph) with higher gusts. Minimum central pressure is now 984 MB or 29.06 inches.
File photo shows hurricane Hermine that made landfall near St Marks  just south of Florida s capital...
File photo shows hurricane Hermine that made landfall near St Marks, just south of Florida's capital Tallahassee with 80 mile (130 kilometer) per hour winds.
Mark Wallheiser, Getty/AFP
Florence is moving toward the west near 6 mph (9 kph), and this general motion is expected to continue through today. By Monday, the storm is expected to take a west-northwestward motion and pick up speed.
On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the southeastern U.S. coast on Thursday.
Florence will become a dangerous hurricane
Florence is forecast to rapidly strengthen to a major hurricane by Monday and is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday. Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda and are beginning to reach portions of the U.S. East Coast. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
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“A period of rapid strengthening (is expected) within the next 12-36 hours,” NOAA says. “This means that Florence is likely to be a very powerful hurricane as it moves over the western Atlantic toward the southeastern United States.”
Winds will begin hitting the Carolina coast 8 p.m. Wednesday and the middle of the two states by 8 a.m. Thursday, NOAA says.
Dave Loewenthal of the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office told the Wilmington Star Sunday that it could take another two days before experts know exactly where the storm will hit land.
Loewenthal said the waters off the North Carolina coast are in the mid-to-upper 80s, which would allow the storm to maintain its strength. “That is pretty warm for this time of year and it will help keep the hurricane’s intensity up as it nears the coast,” he said.
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