Florence Becomes A Hurricane, Takes Aim At US Southeast

Florence Becomes A Hurricane, Takes Aim At US Southeast

Florence Becomes A Hurricane, Takes Aim At US Southeast

Forecasters say Tropical Storm Florence has turned into a hurricane again and is swirling toward the U.S. East Coast for what could be a direct hit toward the end of the week.

In an noon update, National Hurricane Center forecasters said sustained winds had reached 130 miles per hour. Eastbound lanes of Interstate 26 heading into Charleston and US 501 heading into Myrtle Beach will be reversed when the order takes effect.

Since reliable record-keeping began more than 150 years ago, North Carolina has only been hit by one Category 4 hurricane: Hazel, with 130 miles per hour winds in 1954.

In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Olivia is set to sweep through the Hawaiian islands Tuesday, where tropical storm watches have been posted.

Hurricane Florence is strengthening and now has sustained winds of 90 miles per hour.

Exactly where is anybody's guess, but the National Hurricane Center said Florence is expected to remain an "extremely unsafe major hurricane" through Thursday.

A high pressure system building to the northwest is expected to steer Florence over the next few days across the Atlantic as it picks up speed.

Local impacts from Florence are not expected, according to the National Weather Service Tallahassee.

Swells up to 15 feet could batter the coast, Myers said, and the storm system is likely to stall when it crosses land, dumping up to 20 inches of rain on some inland locations.




"A big question on this track is how intense the storm remains over the Research Triangle area of North Carolina - Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill", Watson said.

Hurricane Isaac - which late Sunday became the fifth hurricane of the season - is heading west towards the Caribbean.

"Whatever happens, we're going to have a lot of rain and a lot of wind, even if the hurricane goes farther north", he added. One high altitude jet, nicknamed Gonzo, has been flying through the storm to collect information over the weekend.

Isaac is a "tiny tropical cyclone", the NHC said, and that size couple with an environment of low shear and warm sea surface temperatures, could lead to rapid development over the next 36 to48 hours.

The storm's sustained winds reached 75 mph (121 kph), just over the threshold for a hurricane, on Sunday morning as it was moving across the Atlantic, about 750 miles (1,210 kilometres) southeast of Bermuda. Landfall along the east coast is possible late Thursday or early Friday.

Large swells and surf generated by Hurricane Olivia will be the initial threat.

Meanwhile, the two other tropical storms in the Atlantic - Florence and Helen - are expected to become hurricanes today.

Storm-force winds could begin buffeting the Carolina coast by Wednesday night, forecasters said.

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