Hurricane Florence strengthens, churns toward US Southeast coast

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Helene has sustained winds of 45 miles per hour and is moving west at 13 miles per hour.

Hurricane Florence is still on track to hit the East Coast of the United States this week - and two other big storms are brewing right behind it. The storm is forecast to make landfall along the North Carolina coast sometime Thursday as a Category 3 or 4 storm.

If Florence makes landfall as a Category 4 in North Carolina, it will be the strongest storm to come ashore that far north on record. They were likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, according to the NHC.

The shift west into SC after landfall is attributed to a big area of high pressure in the north that is keeping the hurricane to the south causing Florence to move towards the Carolinas.

The storm is expected to approach the southeast USA coast on Thursday.

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Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Friday night to ease load restrictions on farmers moving harvests from fields to market or storage.

"If you see a business taking advantage of this storm, please let my office know so we can hold them accountable", Stein said. "During harvest, time is of the essence". "Action today can avoid losses due to Florence".

Officials in North Carolina had already bracing for impact before McMaster made his announcement.

The latest forecast from the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, "Florence is moving toward the west near 9 miles per hour (14 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple days".

The third system - tropical Storm Helene is also strengthening.

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Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda and could cause unsafe rip currents and coastal flooding Saturday in areas including coastal DE and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said. "Due to these conditions, Superintendent David Hallac is strongly urging all beach visitors to stay out of the Atlantic Ocean until risky conditions subside". Large swells were already expected to hit the British island territory in the north Atlantic Ocean Saturday.

To become a hurricane, a storm must reach sustained winds of 74 miles per hour.

This would mean gusty winds and rain are possible for central Georgia over the weekend, specifically Sunday. Hurricane Isaac was expected to lose strength as it reaches the Caribbean, and Helene, much farther out to sea, may veer northward into the open ocean as the 2018 hurricane season reaches its peak. Those on the coast and inland from SC into the mid-Atlantic region should be on alert and have a hurricane plan in place, according to the agency. It will affect the Cabo Verde Islands, possibly as a hurricane this weekend.

A motion toward the west-northwest and northwest is expected through early Thursday, according to National Hurricane Center officials.

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