Florence projected to strengthen to major hurricane

Hurricane Florence weakens but could threaten U.S. coast next week

During an evening update from the National Hurricane Center, forecasters said the storm was expected to affect the Cabo Verde Islands Saturday night and Sunday.

Florence's first impact to Bermuda and the US East Coast could start this weekend with large swells, potentially causing unsafe surf conditions and rip currents.

Just where the storm will head is still uncertain, but computer models used by the center's specialists to forecast track indicated a USA landfall looked increasingly likely.

North Carolina declared a state of emergency on Friday.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence's maximum sustained winds Friday evening were estimated to be 65 miles per hour.

"Wind shear is expected to weaken which will allow (Florence) to strengthen and move west into warmer waters which will help it develop into a hurricane", Michael Stroz, a meteorologist for the NWS in Charleston said. This, unfortunately will mean that Florence has a much higher chance of affecting the USA east coast by later in the week.

Florence has weakened, but forecasters have been anticipating that favorable atmospheric conditions will see it regain strength as a major hurricane by the time it reaches the East Coast.

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The US East Coast is bracing for Florence as it approaches the coastline.

Just a day or two ago, Florence was thought to be very likely to curve out to sea; of the 79 named storms that have formed within 200 miles of its birthplace in the Atlantic, none have hit the United States. It has maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour, and was moving to the west at 13 miles per hour.

It appears that Florence will slow down as it turns around the west end of the bubble of high pressure.

Meanwhile the NHC said Tropical Storm Florence is forecast to become a hurricane by Sunday and a major hurricane again early next week. Helene has winds of 45 mph, and is 330 miles from the Cabo Verde Islands.

Tropical-storm warnings have been issued for the southern Cabo Verde Islands. The forecast track has the storm strengthening to a hurricane next week as is tracks west.

There is also Tropical Depression Nine in the Central Atlantic. Or, it could make an actual landfall, with more severe impacts at the beaches, and wind & rain farther inland here in the Piedmont.

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