Florence becomes a hurricane, takes aim at US Southeast

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

Winds in Florence are now at 90 miles per hour, making it a category 1 hurricane.

Florence is not now expected to impact metro Atlanta, as the storm is now forecast to remain northeast of the area.

"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the southeastern coast of the United States on Thursday", the NHC said Sunday. "This is certainly going to make a stronger approach, in terms of wind speeds the way it looks now, than Fran did".

Met Service said neither of the storms are a threat to Jamaica. But authorities were taking no chances as the governors of North and SC and Virginia declared states of emergency far ahead of the approaching storm.

The storms are two of three hurricanes now spinning in the Atlantic.

The National Hurricane Center says it is still too early to predict the hurricane's exact path, but a huge coastal area from northern Florida to North Carolina should prepare for a major hit.

In Charleston, South Carolina, along the coast, city officials offered sandbags to residents. Cooper urged residents to "review your emergency plans and gather your supplies now".

"We want to hope and pray for the best, but we have to prepare for the worst", he said.

Florence's effects were already being felt along the coast, with unsafe swells and rip currents in some spots.

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A voluntary evacuation encourages students to leave for a safer location, but it does not require them to leave, say officials.

Twelve water rescues were made Saturday and another 15 were necessary at Wrightsville Beach on Sunday as a result of rip currents caused by Florence.

Red flags flying on beaches warned swimmers to stay out of waters already roiled by the distant storm, and cruise ships and Navy vessels were set to be steered out of harm's way.

The biggest threats include flooding and damaging winds.

"The National Hurricane Center says Florence could make landfall by Friday in the Southeast U.S. and that residents from SC to the mid-Atlantic need to get ready".

Store owners said the two biggest sellers have been gas and bottled water, with shelves bare in many stores across the Triangle.

Johnson is not taking any chances with Hurricane Florence and was one of many getting gas and groceries on Sunday. "I got candles, I got flashlights, I got tons of gallons of water".

The storm may sit over parts of the mid-Atlantic for days, like Harvey did in Texas past year, bringing major flooding to an area that has already seen above-average rainfall in recent months.

Helene is expected to go out to sea after passing the Cabo Verde Islands, but Isaac could be on a path to the Caribbean, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria almost a year ago.

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