Florence becomes a hurricane, takes aim at US Southeast

Florence becomes a hurricane, takes aim at US Southeast

The storm could intensify rapidly by Sunday, becoming a "major hurricane" by Monday. The forecast showed Isaac tracking south of Puerto Rico as it strengthened into a hurricane.

The Miami-based center says Florence is gaining strength and is expected to become a major hurricane Monday and keep that status as a powerful and extremely unsafe storm until Thursday.

Florence remains a tropical storm located 840 miles southeast of Bermuda, it is moving west at 9 mph. For now, Isaac has 50 mph winds that extend 60 miles from its center.

The storm itself, however, is not expected to make landfall until Thursday evening at the earliest, according to the latest forecast path from the NHC.

With the region now in Florence's tentative projected path, weather officials are advising area residents to start making preparations.

It would be the first Category 4 hurricane to do so since Hugo in 1989.

To become a hurricane, a storm must reach sustained winds of 74 miles per hour.

The Miami-based centre defines a major hurricane as one with a wind speed greater than 177 km/h.

The hurricane center warned that "swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda and will reach portions of the U.S. East Coast over the weekend".

This enhanced satellite image made available by NOAA shows Tropical Storm Florence third from right in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday Sept. 8 2018 at 3 p.m. EDT. At right off the coast of Africa is Tropical Storm Helene and second from right is Trop

Swells from the storm, which are likely to cause life-threatening conditions, are already beginning to affect the East Coast. After passing the Cabo Verde Islands the system was not expected to pose a direct threat to land for at least several days.

The Met Office said Trinidad and Tobagi is not under any tropical storm watch or warning at this time. These can range from high winds and storm surge in coastal Virginia to significant flooding both along the coast and in rivers and streams in the western part of the state.

Late Friday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency.

A landfall is expected Thursday night or Friday morning along the coast of SC or North Carolina.

His executive order waives transportation rules to help farmers harvest and transport their crops more quickly.

Cooper also urged people to learn what evacuation routes to take, and put fuel in their vehicles in case they're ordered to leave.

Florence continues to churn in the open Atlantic today. It is given a 90 percent chance of development in the next 48 hours. The U.S. Fleet Forces Command said in a news release Saturday that the ships will get ready in anticipation of getting under way Monday to avoid storm damage.

- Florence strengthened in the Atlantic Sunday and again became a hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center's 11 a.m. update.