Hurricane Florence weakened to a tropical storm overnight but continues to creep closer to the United States is expected to regain strength as it nears the East Coast.
Florence, which weakened to a tropical storm Thursday night, is forecast to restrengthen into a major hurricane as it approaches the East Coast next week.
Where and when it might strike remains a mystery.
The storm is almost 1,600 miles from the Outer Banks of North Carolina and is still as much as a week away from a potential U.S. landfall, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center.
As of 5 p.m. ET Friday, Florence had winds of 65 mph and was moving to the west at 8 mph. The storm’s center was 905 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.
After it weakens and regains strength, it’s forecast to become a Category 4 hurricane with 130-mph winds as it nears the United States.
“Regardless of Florence’s eventual track, large swells will begin to affect Bermuda later today and portions of the U.S. East Coast this weekend, resulting in life-threatening surf and rip currents,” the hurricane center said Friday morning.
It is too soon to determine what, if any, other effects Florence could have on the East Coast, the hurricane center added.
A pair of top computer models from the United States and Europe, however, indicate a major hurricane landfall in the Carolinas next week, said weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue.
AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said that “while it is too early to change plans, all interests in Bermuda and along the East Coast of the U.S. should closely monitor the movement of Florence over this weekend and next week.”
If the storm did hit the U.S., it would be an unprecedented event: Since 1851, 33 named storms have been within 100 miles of Florence’s current position, and none of those storms made U.S. landfall, said Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach.
He added that Florence does not appear to be taking a track similar to any historical hurricanes.
Beyond Florence, two other systems are gathering strength in the Atlantic Ocean. Both were classified as tropical depressions Friday afternoon and are forecast to become named tropical storms and eventually hurricanes within the next few days, the hurricane center said. The next two names on the list are Helene and Isaac.
“With so much focus on Florence, great attention should be made for potential Helene over the coming days,” said Weather Network meteorologist Erin Wenckstern. She added that a hurricane landfall is possible for the Lesser Antilles, an island chain in the Caribbean.
In the Pacific Ocean, while Tropical Storm Norman is not expected to hit Hawaii, Hurricane Olivia could hit the islands next week, potentially as a tropical storm, the hurricane center said.
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