Florence becomes a hurricane, takes aim at US Southeast

Major Hurricane Likely to Hit East Coast Late This Week

The storm was centered about 810 miles (1305 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 5 mph (7 kph).

Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency Saturday to give his state time to prepare for the possible arrival of a hurricane.

The governor's office said the order was meant to mobilize resources in preparation for the storm.

The biggest threats include flooding and damaging winds.

All three governors urged residents to assemble emergency kits including food, water, medications, pet supplies and important documents that might be needed if evacuations are necessary.

In the Eastern Atlantic the disturbance east of the Cabo Verde Islands has strengthened into Tropical Storm Helene, the eighth named storm of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season.

The hurricane centre said it was still too early to predict its exact path.

On Saturday evening, Florence's maximum sustained winds were estimated to be 70 miles per hour (110 kph). Major hurricanes are those reaching Category 3 or higher, meaning sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

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Swells generated by Florence could cause risky rip currents and coastal flooding Saturday in areas including coastal DE and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.

The Navy said Saturday that it may be necessary to send ships in the Norfolk, Virginia, area out to sea because of the coming storm. Forecasters predicted it would become a unsafe Category 4 storm before a possible landfall Friday.

Last week Florence was a Category 4 hurricane before it weakened to a tropical storm, then regained strength this weekend into a Category 1 hurricane. The NWS is expecting to issue strong rip current advisories for all area beaches Sunday, and Loewenthal said that is expected to continue through the week. A state of emergency was declared in sc and Virginia to give officials and residents enough time to prepare for Florence if it hits the area.

McMaster said SC residents should hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

He said he's not telling people to leave, just to prepare.

As Florence moves west, the wind shear will decrease, allowing Florence to become more organized and intensify.

Dave Loewenthal, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Wilmington office, said the storm's track is still uncertain.

Forecasters say two low pressure systems off the coast of Africa behind Florence also have high chances of developing into tropical storms.

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