Hurricane Florence strengthened into a Category 4 storm at noon Monday as it continues barreling west toward the US coast. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour and was moving west-northwest at about 9 miles per hour, the hurricane center said. While the exact track of Florence remains uncertain, the threat of a North Carolina landfall sometime Thursday into Friday continues to increase.
On this path, Florence will move over very warm Atlantic waters with favorable upper-level winds for rapid intensification.
A tropical storm watch has been issued for Hawaii, Maui and Oahu. The storm was moving west at 13 miles per hour, the hurricane center said.
Tropical storm force winds extend 80 miles from the center.
The center also said that Hurricane Isaac has become the fifth named hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season. A turn toward the west-northwest is forecast to occur by Monday.
Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said the company is moving crews from Florida and the Midwest to staging areas near the storm path in the Carolinas. The core of Florence is expected to stay to the north of our area. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster emphasized that there's no way to know yet when and where the storm will hit land, or when evacuations might be called.
"A big question on this track is how intense the storm remains over the Research Triangle area of North Carolina - Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill", Watson said. The president said in a tweet that Washington is mobilizing their assets in preparation for the storm and told people living in the East Coast to "take all necessary precautions".
Up to nine hurricanes and four "major" depressions with sustained winds of at least 100mph have been predicted by United States government, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). One high altitude jet, nicknamed Gonzo, has been flying through the storm to collect information over the weekend. It is expected to move across the Lesser Antilles and into the eastern Caribbean Sea Wednesday night or Thursday. But small storms tend to grow and shrink more rapidly than large storms.
The main concern continues to be Florence as the hurricane will be a direct threat to the USA later this week.
Aside from the winds of a hurricane of that magnitude, other threats include life-threatening storm surge and a prolonged flooding threat due to an expected slow-down in Florence's movement. A west-northwestward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected by Monday, and that motion is forecast to continue through mid-week, Met Service said.