Hurricane Florence, the first major storm of the Atlantic season, dropped to a Category 2 storm on Thursday and further weakening is expected later in the day as it continues to head towards Bermuda, forecasters said. There is still a chance the storm could slow down as it nears the USA and meander offshore before turning back out to sea. It was about 2,000 miles from the USA coastline, still too far out for a confident landfall prediction. Philip Klotzbach, a hurricane meteorologist at Colorado State University, said eight hurricanes have passed within 100 miles of Florence's current location since 1950, and none of them have done much more than churn in the ocean.
More and more, Florence is looking like a storm that may give the US East Coast problems as a potentially major hurricane next week.
The disturbance was followed by a tropical wave heading off the African coast, which the NHC rated 80 per cent likely to develop over the next 48 hours.
Hubbard said with this storm it's hard to confidently say what it's going to do two days from now, let alone where it will be next week. Blocking high pressure makes it less likely for a New England direct hit, but we won't know that definitely for a few days.
Even if Florence avoids a direct hit on the East Coast, it will likely come very close, resulting in risky surf, beach erosion, and the potential for coastal flooding.
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Florence's forecast track overlaid on a map of current sea surface temperature. As of Saturday morning, Florence is a tropical storm.
Some forecast models showed Florence slamming into land by late next week, while others indicated the storm would curve away from shore. It's wise to have a plan ready to go in case a storm should strike. "If you don't have a hurricane emergency kit, this is the time to assemble one".
Florence is the sixth named storm and the third hurricane of the Atlantic Hurricane season.
The European and American models have shifted westward in the past two days, consistently showing a menacing hurricane coming dangerously close to the Eastern Seaboard. If they strengthen into tropical storms, they could become Helene and Isaac.