(TNS) - Florence strengthened to Category 1 hurricane Sunday morning as the storm charted an uncertain path toward the Unites States' East Coast.
According to an 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Florence's maximum sustained winds have intensified to 75 mph. The storm, about 750 miles southeast of Bermuda, is projected to make landfall early Friday morning somewhere in the Carolinas, according to National Hurricane Center forecasts.
As of 11 a.m. Sunday, the storm was moving westward at 6 mph. The National Hurricane Center projects Hurricane Florence could become a major storm -- classified as Category 3 or higher -- by Monday.
Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency for North Carolina Friday, and Sunday his office sent out a news release urging residents to start taking precautions.
"State emergency management, transportation, health experts and others are making sure North Carolina is prepared for the storm, and I urge the public to review your emergency plans and gather your supplies now," the release quoted Cooper.
Dave Loewenthal, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office, said the storm's track is still uncertain.
“It will probably be a day or two until we have honed in on where it will make landfall,” Loewenthal said on Saturday afternoon. “But this is a serious storm and it does warrant our attention.”
Loewenthal said the waters off the North Carolina coast are in the mid-to-upper 80s, which would allow the storm to maintain its strength.
“That is pretty warm for this time of year and it will help keep the hurricane’s intensity up as it nears the coast,” he said.
Loewenthal said the area should prepare to see impacts, including rough surf and dangerous rip currents, as early as Sunday. The NWS is expecting to issue strong rip current advisories for all area beaches Sunday, and Loewenthal said that is expected to continue through the week.
With the region now in Florence’s projected path, weather officials are advising area residents to start making preparations.
“You definitely want to make sure prescriptions are up to date, know the evacuation routes, and just be vigilant and keep checking on where this thing will go,” Loewenthal said.
Keep checking back for updates on the storm throughout the day.
©2018 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.)
Visit the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) at www.starnewsonline.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.