Hurricane Florence: Deadly Rip Currents Possible This Weekend

Hurricane Florence, the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, weakened overnight, but may threaten a large swath of the East Coast next week, forecasters warn. Florence briefly strengthened to a Category 4 storm Wednesday before it was downgraded to a Category 3 a few hours later.

Florence formed near the Cabo Verde islands last weekend and reached hurricane status on Tuesday. At its strongest, the storm had sustained winds of 130 mph. The National Hurricane Center said at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time Thursday, Florence was moving northwest at about 10 mph and had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, but was clinging to hurricane status and was expected to re-intensify Friday.

Swells from the storm could affect Bermuda beginning Friday and portions of the U.S. East Coast by the weekend, resulting in “life-threatening surf and rip currents,” the hurricane center said.

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Florence’s path over the next five days is uncertain, but a large swath of the East Coast from North Carolina’s Outer Banks to southern New England could take a direct hit Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

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Even if the storm begins to curve and go back out to sea, “Florence will be in Bermuda waters on Tuesday” if current predictions hold true, said Dan Kottlowski, a hurricane expert for AccuWeather.

“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,” Kottlowski said.

It would be rare for a hurricane as far north as Florence currently is to make landfall on the East Coast, AccuWeather said, but noted the weather pattern that could evolve over the western Atlantic, “we may be in uncharted territory,” AccuWeather said.

Florence comes on the heels of Tropical Storm Gordon, which made landfall along the Alabama-Mississippi Gulf Coast Tuesday, killing one.

Photo via National Hurricane Center

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