Sunday, September 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Hurricane Guide

Florence weakens but forecast to intensify, setting possible path toward Eastern Seaboard

After a relatively slow start to the 2018 hurricane season, there is a growing likelihood that there could be three named storms in the Atlantic by this weekend.

And while Florence has weakened to a tropical storm after topping out as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds, it continues on a westerly path that could bring it dangerously close to the U.S. East Coast by late next week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As of Friday at 11 a.m. the storm’s maximum sustained winds were at 65 mph — with higher gusts — and it was located about 935 miles east-southeast of Bermuda, moving west at 8 mph. But that may must be a blip as conditions are favorable for the storm to re-intensify and return to hurricane strength as it approaches Bermuda by this weekend, forecasters said.

Regardless of whether it regains its hurricane status, the storm is forecast to produce life-threatening surf and dangerous rip currents in Bermuda by later Friday and portions along the Eastern Seaboard by the weekend. And folks on the East Coast remain on high alert.

Whether it continues on that westerly path and threatens the East Coast depends on a ridge situated to its north that is helping it maintain its current path, forecasters said.

Florence is forecast to track west through the weekend, forecasters said. But a trough could weaken that ridge, steering the storm more toward the northwest and away from land.

"There is still very large uncertainty in Florence’s track beyond Day 5, and it is too soon to determine what, if any, other impacts Florence could have on the U.S. East Coast next week," according to Hurricane Center forecasters.

Meanwhile, two tropical waves off the African coast have become better organized, and forecasters give them 90 percent chances of tropical development in the next two days. If they strengthen into tropical storms, they could become Helene and Isaac.

As of 11 a.m., one already has been classified as Potential Tropical Cyclone Eight, and forecasters said it could become a tropical depression or storm later today.

The Hurricane Center has issued a Tropical Storm Warning as it is forecast to approach the Cabo Verde Islands by Sunday. It has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and could produce up to 8 inches of rain across the Cabo Verde Islands.

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