UPDATE: 3 hurricanes in Atlantic; Florence expected to make landfall late in week


Hurricane Florence continued to intensify Sunday when its maximum winds increased to 90 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center -- and it was joined by two other strengthening hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.

Forecasters expect Florence to develop into a major hurricane by Monday and remain “an extremely dangerous major hurricane” through Thursday when it approaches South Carolina and North Carolina.

The hurricane was about 685 miles southeast of Bermuda as of 11 p.m.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Isaac became the fifth Atlantic hurricane of the year when it strengthened to maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm was about 1,305 miles east of the Windward Islands as of 11 p.m. Sunday. Forecasters expect Isaac to move into the Caribbean on Thursday.

Helene also intensified into a hurricane Sunday, when top wind speeds reached 75 mph. By 11 p.m., winds had jumped to 85 mph. The storm is expected to remain far from the U.S. 

An NHC forecaster said tracking three storms at this time of year is not unusual. “It’s the peak of the hurricane season, so this is definitely the time,” forecaster Chuck Caracozza said Saturday.

As of Sunday, forecasters expected Florence to spare Florida as it makes landfall in the Carolinas.

In South Carolina, the state’s governor declared a state of emergency Saturday to encourage residents to begin preparations. 

North Carolina’s governor made a similar declaration on Friday.

For Palm Beach County, large waves will be the most visible effect from Florence, National Weather Service meteorologist Anthony Reynes said Sunday. He said the region could see 5- to 6-foot waves Thursday and 8- to 10-foot surf Friday.

Even with Florence some 1,600 miles east of Florida on Sunday, the storm’s surf already had arrived. According to Surfline.com, Cocoa Beach and other areas in Central Florida saw waves of three to four feet on Sunday.

The other two storms remained closer to Africa than to the U.S., meaning they’re too far away for forecasters to hazard a guess about how they might affect Florida.

“It’s too early to tell right now,” Reynes said.


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