A powerful hurricane could strike part of the U.S. East Coast in the coming days as Tropical Storm Florence kept strengthening Saturday in the Atlantic.
Florence is most likely to hit the southeast U.S., possibly the Carolinas, the latest models show. It was about 1,340 miles east of Florida and its path remained unclear five days out from expected landfall.
The storm, which already was the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, had weakened, but was expected to again become a hurricane imminently, according to an 11 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. It’ll be “a hurricane at any time soon and rapid intensification is likely to begin on Sunday,” the advisory said.
Florence is forecast by Monday to become a major hurricane, which means at least a Category 3, with winds of 111 to 129 mph.
Two other tropical storms, Isaac and Helene, also are spinning in the Atlantic and could become hurricanes in the next few days, though none posed an immediate threat to Florida.
Bryan Norcross, a meteorologist with WPLG-Ch. 10, likened the three storms’ trajectories to a pool-ball break, where all are expected to spin off in different directions.
While Florence could hit land somewhere north of Florida, Helene likely will present no threat to land as it goes north, said Norcross, who talked South Florida through Hurricane Andrew’s pounding on television 46 years ago.
And Isaac, well, that’s anyone’s guess.
“Isaac is just too far away” to predict, he said.
To have this many storms simultaneously in the Atlantic is not at all unusual for this time of year, meteorologists say. September is the peak month for tropical weather — and Sept. 10 is the statistical peak day, said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.
“We’ve seen this many times in the past,” Feltgen said, noting that last year, Irma, Jose and Katia all were active at the same time.
It makes sense that the peak is happening now, Norcross said. “During this period, the ocean is the warmest it’s going to be,” he said. “It’s the confluence of atmospheric conditions and the ocean [temperature] lining up so that anything that starts to spin, will spin up” into a storm.
Source: National Hurricane Center