Hurricane Florence continues to creep closer to the United States – but whether, where and when it might strike remains a mystery.
Still almost 1,800 miles from the East Coast, the Category 1 storm remains a week away, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center.
“It is far too soon to speculate what, if any, impacts Florence may have on the U.S. East Coast next week,” the hurricane center said Thursday afternoon.
But in the meantime, waves from the distant storm will soon start to affect coastal communities.
“Regardless of Florence’s eventual track, large swells emanating from the hurricane will reach Bermuda beginning on Friday and portions of the U.S. East Coast this weekend, resulting in life-threatening surf and rip currents,” the hurricane center said.
Florence was east of the Bahamas on Thursday afternoon and moving northwest at 10 mph.
Most storms in that region tend to curve away from the United States. But an unusually strong ridge of high pressure could block that path, weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue said.
“If you live anywhere from coastal Georgia to coastal Massachusetts, start planning now,” Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Bettes said.
Winds peaked at 130 mph Wednesday before weakening to 80 mph on Thursday. They’re expected to weaken further over the next couple of days – potentially down to tropical storm status – before regaining strength to 120 mph, a Category 3 hurricane by early next week.
After Florence, at least two other storms are forecast to form in the Atlantic. Either could threaten North America by mid-month. The next two named storms would be Helene and Isaac.
Helene could enter the Caribbean as a hurricane next week, Maue said.
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