Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Hurricane Guide

Hurricane Florence strengthens into a Category 4 storm as two other tropical waves develop

Tropical Storm Gordon may be losing strength now that it has made landfall late Tuesday night, but there is little time to reflect as a hurricane and a pair of tropical waves bear watching in the Atlantic.

Like clockwork, September is beginning to bring the type of busy hurricane activity that should have the Tampa Bay area at least on alert.

RELATED: Gordon makes landfall near Alabama-Mississippi border as tropical storm

Hurricane Florence has strengthened into a major Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds at 130 mph with higher gusts as of 5 p.m. It continues to track to the west-northwest at 13 mph. Forecasters predict that the storm will make a turn toward the west-northwest Thursday night. The storm may also turn back toward the northwest at the beginning of next week. While previous tracks had the storm heading into the open waters of the Atlantic, it still poses no threat to land at the moment.

However, while forecasters say it’s still too early to meaningfully project its final trajectory, the East Coast should keep a wary eye out.

"Simply put, it’s a little too far out to make any official predictions," said Tony Hurt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin. "It looks like in the next five days it will be slightly southeast of Bermuda. Some models predict it returning to the east. However, there are some that showing it turning further west. Even so, that would place it at more than 10 days away. So currently, we don’t feel it poses any immediate threat to the United States."

The National Hurricane Center also is monitoring two waves that could develop into tropical systems.

One, located a couple of hundred miles south-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, has a 90 percent chance of becoming a tropical system by the weekend or early next week as it moves west-northwest across the Atlantic. If it develops, it could become Tropical Storm Helene.

The other is forecast to move off the African coast in the next few days, and has a 20 percent could become a tropical system

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