Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Strengthening Hurricane Florence blasts toward US East Coast

Hurricane Florence Tropical Depression Six becomes Tropical Storm Florence
Stacy Houston | 15 September, 2018, 15:58

Tropical Storm Florence was expected to strengthen back into a hurricane by Saturday night and then rapidly intensify on Sunday as it headed for a possible landfall on the US East Coast next week.

Florence crossed the 74 miles per hour threshold from tropical storm to hurricane Sunday morning, and by evening its winds were up to 85 miles per hour (140 kph) as the National Hurricane Center warned it was expected to become an extremely risky major hurricane by Monday and remain that way for days.

Florence is expected to travel between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday before approaching the southeastern USA coast on Thursday.

Florence was spinning across the Atlantic Ocean about 1,305 km southeast of Bermuda on Saturday afternoon, moving west at around 7 kph, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The storm's center was 750 miles (1,200 km) southeast of Bermuda at 11 a.m. EDT on Sunday.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on Friday and urged residents to prepare for Florence's arrival.

"Everyone in North Carolina needs to keep a close eye on Florence and take steps now to get ready for impacts later this week", Cooper said in a statement yesterday. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster emphasized that there's no way to know yet when and where the storm will hit land, or when evacuations might be called. "Being prepared is always the best strategy", McMaster said.

Serena Williams row: Tennis umpires mulling boycott of matches involving American star
He has been assigned to officiate the Davis Cup semifinal matches between the United States and host Croatia later this week. Once renewed, she can be part of Forbes' list of highest-paid women in sports, possibly placing second-just below Serena.

In coastal Charleston, South Carolina, city officials offered sandbags to residents.

Myrtle Beach hardware stores and supermarkets were busy ringing up sales of bottled water, plywood and generators.

Unsafe swells generated by Florence affected Bermuda and have begun to reach parts of the Eastern Seaboard. On North Carolina's Outer Banks, the town of Nags Head posted no-swimming flags on beaches. It was on track to move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Wednesday, the NHC said.

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, near the shore, canceled its upcoming alumni weekend and all classes starting at noon Monday, encouraging its students to leave campus for a safer location.

The U.S. Navy is making preparations this weekend for its ships in the Hampton Roads area to leave port.

Florida-based Carnival Cruise Line was re-routing its cruise ships, but there were other hurricanes to contend with.

Helene, meanwhile, was still in the Atlantic's spawning ground for hurricanes off the coast of Africa, swirling with 105 mph winds and forecast to become a major hurricane, about 375 miles west of the Cape Verde islands.

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