Science

Florence strengthens into a hurricane, takes aim at the Southeast

Florence strengthens into a hurricane, takes aim at the Southeast”

The storm is forecast to become a "major hurricane" Monday, travel between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday before approaching the southeastern USA coast on Thursday, the Miami-based weather centre said.

Isaac, previously a tropical storm, strengthened into the fifth hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season on Sunday, the NHC said.

Florence, now a Category 4 storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, could approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday.

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.

As Tropical Storm Florence heads toward the US coast, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency on Saturday.

This, unfortunately will mean that Florence has a much higher chance of affecting the US east coast by later in the week.

Saturday evening, Florence hit a maximum of 70 mph (110 kph) winds with the storm about 810 miles (1305 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, moving westward at a rate of 5 mph (7 kph).

The Miami-based center said that it was still too early to predict the hurricane's exact path but that a huge coastal area from SC to the mid-Atlantic region should prepare for a major strike late in the week. Hurricane-to-tropical-storm-force winds could extend inland, depending on the storm's track.

"The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely unsafe hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity", the hurricane center said.

"North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously, and you should, too", Cooper said. Strengthening into a tropical storm is forecast this weekend and possibly a hurricane early next week as it approaches the Lesser Antilles.

The NHC also was tracking two other hurricanes farther out in the Atlantic.

Tropical Depression Nine is expected to become Tropical Storm Isaac late Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the warm waters of the southwestern Atlantic Ocean through Wednesday. The state Emergency Management Division said residents should begin preparing their homes and property for the storm.

The biggest threats include flooding and damaging winds. While larger than Katrina (which was 415 miles wide), it still has a ways to go to reach the record width of 1,000 miles from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

US Navy ships are also evacuating their ships in the Hampton Roads area to leave the port.

Hurricane Florence has the potential to bring catastrophic flooding to areas of the eastern United States already soaked by heavy rain and may be the strongest storm to hit the region in decades.



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