TROPICS: Florence to become a hurricane today; TD 9 strengthening

Hurricane Florence has the potential to make landfall on the East Coast but it is still too early to tell

Tropical Storm Helene is just off the African coast and tropical storm warnings have been issued for the southern Cabo Verde Islands.

"While it's still too early to know the storm's path, we know we have to be prepared", Cooper said in a news release.

Tropical Storm Florence is expected to become a hurricane by Saturday night with rapid strengthening Sunday to become a major hurricane by Tuesday, according to the latest National Hurricane Center forecasts. "Action today can avoid losses due to Florence".

On Wednesday, the storm was ranked a Category 4 hurricane, packing winds up to 130 miles per hour. She is now a tropical storm but is expected to regain hurricane intensity very quickly and could be a major hurricane by early next week.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency on Friday evening, urging residents to use the weekend to prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster. The favorable environmental conditions are expected along the path of this developing tropical cyclone and the system should become a hurricane during the early or middle part of next week. The environment over the next few days was expected to support some further intensification.

Mr Caterina continued: "Notice it is still looking like it will make an approach on the coast, some of the models have it making landfall in North Carolina, while others have it on a loop, where it pauses for a little bit and then makes its way back out to sea".

"The risk of other direct impacts associated with Florence along the U.S. East Coast next week has increased", the Center stated in its key messages. This, unfortunately will mean that Florence has a much higher chance of affecting the US east coast by later in the week. Large uncertainty in model forecasts make it too soon to determine the location, magnitude and timing of the storm's impacts next week.

Helene will likely become a hurricane next week. Hurricane tracking models remains split in the longer term but they will likely begin tightening up in the coming days.

At 8a.m. the center of the system was located near latitude 13.6 north, longitude 20.2 west, or about 290 miles (465 kilometres) east south east of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands, moving towards the west near 13 miles per hour (20 kilometres per hour).

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