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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Tropical Storm Florence is forecast to become a hurricane by Sunday and a major hurricane again by early next week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

At 11 p.m., the center of the system was about 790 miles southeast of Bermuda and about 675 miles northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands. The storm was moving toward the west near 6 mph and this general motion is expected for the next couple days.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 70 mph with higher gusts.

Florence is expected to become a hurricane at any time soon and rapid intensification is likely to begin on Sunday.

Florence is forecast to become a major hurricane by Monday.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles from the center.

A west-northwestward to northwestward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected by the middle of next week.

On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the southeastern U.S. coast on Thursday.

There are currently no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda and are beginning to reach portions of the U.S. East Coast.

These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Please consult products from your local weather office.

Forecasters said it was too soon to tell where the storm would go. Some forecast models showed Florence slamming into land by late next week, while others indicated the storm would curve away from shore.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency on Friday evening, urging residents to use the weekend to prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster.

“We are entering the peak of hurricane season and we know well the unpredictability and power of these storms,” Cooper said.

South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division also advised coastal residents to start making contingency plans.

“The risk of other direct impacts associated with Florence along the U.S. East Coast next week has increased. However, there is still very large uncertainty in model forecasts of Florence’s track beyond day (five), making it too soon to determine the exact location, magnitude, and timing of these impacts,” hurricane specialist Robbie Berg wrote in a forecast advisory.

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