Tropical Storm Florence turns into a hurricane

TROPICS: Florence to become a hurricane today; TD 9 strengthening

State of emergency called in North Carolina as tropical storm Florence nears US East Coast

Cooper said state emergency management officials are working with local and federal agencies to prepare North Carolina for possible impacts from Florence.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts Florence will be a risky major hurricane near the southeast US coast by late next week, "and the risk of direct impacts continues to increase".

At the same time, Florence was centred 1160 km southeast of Bermuda while the centre of Helene was located 230 km southwest of the Southernmost Cabo Verde Islands.

As of Saturday afternoon, Florence had winds of 70 miles per hour and was crawling to the west at 5 miles per hour. Florence is looking more organized Sunday morning on satellite. There is at least a five percent chance of tropical storm-force winds in Northeast Florida, though the storm is predicted to track farther north. A westward motion is forecast to continue through the end of the week, with Isaac expected to move across the Lesser Antilles and into the eastern Caribbean Sea Wednesday night or Thursday.

Although it is quite a distance away, swells generated by Florence will begin to impact the southeastern U.S., including Florida, today and through much of next week.

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Florence could cause unsafe surf and rip currents along parts of the U.S. East Coast this weekend as the storm swirls across the Atlantic, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center. Several forecast models have begun to hint that this high pressure becomes strong enough to cause Florence to slow down tremendously late in the week. However, this is not the most likely option.

It stated there is an "increasing risk of life threatening hazards" from storm surge and heavy rainfall but noted it was too early to determine the exact location, timing and magnitude of these impacts.

By Thursday, Florence could regain strength to a Category 3 or higher if it makes landfall along the East Coast.

By definition from the National Hurricane Center, historical data indicates the storm may stay within the cone 60-70% of the time. Weakening is anticipated to begin by the middle of the week while Isaac approaches the Lesser Antilles.

Another tropical storm has now developed in the Atlantic and could possibly hit the British Virgin Islands as a hurricane in the next few days. "A period of rapid strengthening (is expected) within the next 12-36 hours", NOAA says.

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