Hurricane Florence driving 'life-threatening' conditions toward East Coast

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In the meantime, the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states are rushing to prepare for the rapidly strengthening Florence, which is expected to strengthen before it hits the US east coast later this week.

Hurricane Florence is now a Category 2 storm and is still forecast to slam into the southeastern United States, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) in an update on the morning of September 10.

Governors in both SC and Virginia declared a state of emergency Saturday to give their states time to prepare for the possible arrival of the storm.

Florence is forecast to rapidly strengthen to a major hurricane by Monday, and is expected to remain an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday.

The storm's sustained winds reached 75 mph (121 kph), just over the threshold for a hurricane, on Sunday morning as it was swirling across the Atlantic, about 750 miles (1,210 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda.

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Even if Florence remains entirely at sea, the storm is likely to generate heavy seas and hazardous rip currents along the US this weekend, the hurricane center warned.

The storm is expected to head toward the U.S. East Coast, although its exact path is still unclear.

Loewenthal said the area should prepare to see impacts, including rough surf and risky rip currents, as early as Sunday. The storm now has maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour and gusts as high as 90 miles per hour.

As a rapidly strengthening Hurricane Florence aims at Southeast coast, behind it Hurricane Helene, Tropical Storm Isaac and one other potential tropical storm are all brewing.

Further out in the Atlantic, two storms - Helene and Isaac - gained hurricane force on Sunday. It did not immediately pose a threat to land.

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As of 11 a.m., Florence had a maximum wind speed of 115 miles per hour, bringing it to major hurricane status. It will continue to remain an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday.

However, it should be noted that we are still days away from an approach to the coast and the forecast is reliant on a building ridge to the north of the storm.

Hurricane Florence will make its way westward, likely toward the Carolinas later this week while Hurricane Isaac moves westward toward the Caribbean.

"While it is too soon to determine the exact timing, location and magnitude of these impacts, interest at the coast and inland from SC into the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the progress of Florence", said a NOAA statement. But going off the NHC forecast, Florence looks to come well inland to central North Carolina late Thursday and through the day Friday.

Isaac strengthened into a hurricane late Sunday night.

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