Weather

Hurricane Florence risk ‘has increased’ for East Coast as path shifts, experts say

Hurricane Florence expected to strengthen as it heads to western Atlantic

Watch at loop of NOAA satellite images of Hurricane Florence as it moves west in the Atlantic Ocean.
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Watch at loop of NOAA satellite images of Hurricane Florence as it moves west in the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s still too soon to tell the extent that Hurricane Florence may affect the Carolinas.

Meteorologists across the country have said all week that it is too early to determine a track for the storm and to tell how close it will come to the East Coast of the United States.

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But a midday update from the National Hurricane Center on Friday noted the risk of Florence directly impacting the East Coast next week “has increased.” It also indicated Florence could be a Category 4 hurricane, with winds at 130 mph, by Wednesday.

“However, there is still very large uncertainty in model forecasts of Florence’s track beyond day 5, making it too soon to determine the exact location, magnitude, and timing of these impacts,” the NHC update said.

11WIND.jpg
A map showing the earliest reasonable arrival time of tropical storm-force winds from Florence as of 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

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Florence was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane Thursday to tropical storm as of the 5 a.m. Friday update from the NHC, but was expected to regain strength to become a hurricane over the weekend.

Friday’s updates showed a gradual southwest shift in the range of forecast models for the storm — pointing more at the Carolinas — “so the (National Hurricane Center) track forecast has also been nudged in that direction.”

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A map showing the the potential track area of Tropical Storm Florence, which shifted to the south and was expected to regain strength to become a major hurricane as of 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

Earlier this summer, Hurricane Chris surged in the mid-Atlantic, and while it did not take a swipe at the Carolinas, it did cause life threatening rip currents and rough surf, even as a tropical storm, the NHC said.

Hurricane Florence weakened slightly overnight but is expected to remain a dangerous hurricane while two systems off the African coast continue to become better organized.

The main hazard affecting land, the NHC wrote Thursday, is rough surf, which causes its own dangers and worsens flooding, erosion and rip currents.

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The East Coast could see these effects as soon as this weekend.

“Swells generated by Florence will begin to affect Bermuda on Friday and will reach portions of the U.S. East Coast over the weekend,” according to NHC. “These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”

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The storm, swirling away in the mid-Atlantic, was moving west at about 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph on Friday morning, according to the NHC.

“This general motion will likely continue for the next couple of days,” the NHC update said. “A turn toward the west-northwest is expected by the end of the weekend.”

For more information on Hurricane Florence, go to www.nhc.noaa.gov.

For rip current forecasts in the Carolinas, go to www.weather.gov/beach/ilm.

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