Florence is currently a tropical storm, but it will get an upgrade to hurricane status soon.
The storm, which now has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, is expected to gather strength again over the weekend. And while there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect by the National Hurricane Center, two long-term models—NOAA’s Global Forecast System and the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting—both indicate the storm could be headed for the Carolinas.
Ryan Maue, chief operating officer of forecasting service weathermodels.com notes that, as of Friday morning, both models “indicate a major hurricane landfall” in the area.
Florence is at least a week away from hitting the U.S., however, and could change its course or weaken again in that time, bypassing landfall altogether. Forecasters are simply urging people along the east coast to closely watch the storm and be prepared to act if necessary.
Florence isn’t the only storm meteorologists are worried about these days. Two separate disturbances off the shore of Africa are rapidly gaining strength. The National Hurricane Center gives both a 90% chance of becoming a tropical depression in the next 48 hours. If so, the storms will be called Helene and Isaac, the season’s eight and ninth named storms.
And out in the Pacific, Hurricane Olivia is weakening, but expected to restrengthen as well, potentially threatening Hawaii by early next week. (Hurricane Norman, meanwhile has arced north and no longer seems to be a threat to the island.)
Tropical storms and hurricanes have historically peaked at this time of year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects there to be a total of nine to 13 named storms before the season ends on November 30.