A.M. UPDATE: Hurricane Florence getting stronger, faster as it approaches

Florence expected to become hurricane, heading to southeast US

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence is rapidly strengthening and that swells generated by the storm are affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast.

The latest update from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm packing maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour, up from 105 miles per hour at 5 a.m. this morning, making it the first major hurricane of the 2018 season. Packing heavy winds with a maximum sustained wind speed of 130 miles per hour (195 km/h), the hurricane is slowly barreling toward the U.S. East Coast, at a speed of approximately 13 miles per hour (20 km/h).

Residents anywhere along the East Coast should pay attention to and prepare for the storm, as meteorologists say it could cause extremely heavy rain and rip currents up and down the Atlantic coast.

The National Hurricane Center warns that Florence could soon cause a coastal surge that includes flooding before the storm is projected for US landfall (probably) on Thursday.

North Carolina officials on Monday ordered residents to evacuate the state's Outer Banks barrier islands beginning on Monday ahead of Hurricane Florence, the first major hurricane to threaten the eastern United States this year. "Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of SC and is going to go way inshore". The center warns that such storms will snap or uproot most trees and down power poles and that power can be out in some areas for weeks or months.

On its current track Florence is expected to slam the Carolinas and Virginia the hardest - and all three states have issued emergency declarations to speed preparations.

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This weekend's weather made it clear that we've reached peaked hurricane season - two are churning in the Atlantic while a third is expected by Monday.

As a result, a Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning are in effect for the Cabo Verde islands of Santiago, Fogo and Brava.

Hurricane Florence rapidly strengthened into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm on Monday as it closed in on North and SC. "These tropical storms and hurricanes are very unsafe".

The hurricane center projects that Helene will strengthen Monday but "weakening is forecast to commence Wednesday morning".

Writing on Twitter, he added: 'Take time right now to call your friends and family who live in the Carolinas and Virginia. Given the way Florence intensified before it seems either are possible over the coming few days.

At 5 a.m., the center of the Category 2 hurricane was about 625 miles southeast of Bermuda. It poses no threat to land at this time, the center said.

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