Florence Forecast To Become A Major Hurricane; Risk To The East Coast Is Rising Florence is expected to pick up speed and become a hurricane Saturday night. North and South Carolina have declared states of emergency and are urging residents to prepare for the storm.
NPR logo Florence Forecast To Become A Major Hurricane; Risk To The East Coast Is Rising

Florence Forecast To Become A Major Hurricane; Risk To The East Coast Is Rising

Tropical Storm Florence is expected to approach the U.S. East Coast next week. Emergency officials have told residents to expect immediate threats of ocean swells, dangerous rip currents and coastal flooding. National Hurricane Center and NPR hide caption

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National Hurricane Center and NPR

Tropical Storm Florence is expected to approach the U.S. East Coast next week. Emergency officials have told residents to expect immediate threats of ocean swells, dangerous rip currents and coastal flooding.

National Hurricane Center and NPR

Tropical Storm Florence is quickly approaching the eastern United States, and according to the National Hurricane Center, the storm's threat to the East Coast keeps rising. The storm is traveling over warm water; it is expected to increase its speed, and become a hurricane by Saturday night.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts Florence will be a dangerous major hurricane near the southeastern U.S. coast by late next week, "and the risk of direct impacts continues to increase."

"However, given the uncertainty in track and intensity forecasts at those time ranges," the National Hurricane Center tweeted, "it's too soon to determine the exact timing, location, and magnitude of those impacts."

On Friday, North Carolina declared a state of emergency. North Carolina Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Knox told NPR, "This allows our farmers to gather their crops, and get these crops out ahead of the storm. It allows utilities to come in. A lot of these things that we know we need to start doing ahead of time."

Knox said residents in North Carolina should begin preparing, "When we put those orders out, when we tell people, 'this is a flood-prone area,' that you need to find somewhere else to go, don't roll the dice. We want people to heed the warnings that we are putting out."

South Carolina declared a state of emergency on Saturday. The state Emergency Management Division said residents should begin preparing their homes and property for the storm. Florence's immediate threat for residents includes large ocean swells, dangerous rip currents and coastal flooding.

By Saturday evening, Florence was located 810 miles southeast of Bermuda, and had winds of 70 mph. The storm is moving west at 5 mph. Meteorologists expect the tropical storm to evolve into a major hurricane by Tuesday night.

"Our emergency operations center will start up early next week," Knox said, "Because we know that a storm of potentially this size, and potentially of this impact, we as a state need to be in place, on the ground, and ready to help the people of North Carolina."

According to The Washington Post, if Florence hits the U.S. East Coast, it will be the first to do so for a storm in its present location.

Meanwhile, over the Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Olivia is approaching Hawaii with maximum winds of 85 mph. As of Saturday evening, the hurricane was 1,190 miles east of Honolulu. It is expected to approach the Hawaiian Islands as a tropical storm by early next week, becoming the third tropical weather system to affect the islands this year.