Florence gains hurricane status as it tracks towards east coast

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Tropical Storm Florence is forecast to become "a unsafe major hurricane" by late next week as the weather system tracks through the Atlantic Ocean toward the East Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"All indications are that Florence will be an extremely risky Category 4 hurricane while it moves over the western Atlantic toward the southeastern United States", the Miami-based hurricane centre said.

Counties along the central North Carolina coast could see more than 12 inches of rain later this week, if Hurricane Florence stays on its current "probable" path, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm's center was 720 miles (1,160 km) southeast of Bermuda at 5 p.m. EDT on Sunday, and on a track to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Wednesday, the NHC said.

Swells generated by Florence were affecting Bermuda and starting to reach parts of the U.S. East Coast. Strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and Isaac is expected to become a hurricane by Monday.

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

The peak of hurricane season is Monday, and right on cue, there are four tropical systems that are being monitored this week.

Hurricane Helene is in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean and not expected to be near any land.

There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, but officials say it is expected to become a hurricane by Monday.

Forecasters also cautioned that Hurricane Florence will "remain an extremely unsafe hurricane" as it tracks towards the mainland U.S.

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Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 40 miles per hour (65 kilometres per hour) with higher gusts.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also declared a state of emergency Saturday, and temporarily suspended regulations for vehicles transporting supplies and utilities - like gas, electricity and medical supplies, among others. By Thursday, our weather will start to be influenced by tropical Storm Florence, interestingly enough.

Isaac's strengthening to a hurricane came just hours after Helene became a hurricane just off the African coast.

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, the storm was moving westward at 7 miles per hour.

The track for Hurricane Florence shows it targeting the Carolinas by Thursday.

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Where it goes from there is still up in the air, and it's still too early to tell if the storm will have any impact on the weather in Texas.

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