On Thursday evening, Florence weakened to a tropical storm. The storm was much stronger just a day prior on Wednesday. At one point, it was a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph. Wind shear in the upper levels of the atmosphere has caused the structure of Florence to unravel a bit. It is less organized, and the eye wall is much less defined. As the storm lurks about a thousand miles to the southeast of Bermuda, this is indeed good news, at least for the moment.
Now the bad news. The forecast has the track of the storm coming very close to Bermuda by Tuesday. And the storm is expected to once again strengthen into a major hurricane by Monday, with winds between 105 mph and 125 mph. You can see the track of the storm in the illustration below. Florence may continue to weaken early Friday. But as the system moves westward, it will encounter less wind shear. This will allow the storm to intensify rapidly. The Cone of Uncertainty also includes Bermuda. So the island could see a direct impact if the track shifts to the north over the next several days.
The illustration below showcases various hurricane models in one view. Each line represents a different model. Several of these models have the storm very close to the east coast of the U.S. by Wednesday of next week. But there is uncertainly regarding the path the storm.
A large area of high pressure is forecasted be north of the storm. If the high pressure is very strong, Florence will not be able to turn northward as easily, and may take a more direct path toward the eastern seaboard. In this case, North Carolina and Virginia are more likely to be impacted by the storm.
However, if the high pressure area is weaker, the storm may be able to curve to the north. The northeastern U.S. would be more likely to see direct impacts from the storm in this scenario.
At the moment, it’s too early to determine with a great deal of certainly exactly where the storm is going. It’s still a long way off in time and distance. However, Bermuda can expect large swells beginning on Friday. And portions of the east coast will see these large swells over the weekend. If you plan on swimming in the Atlantic, please beware of large surf and rip currents. Florence will still be far away, but the impacts from the storm will begin.
As always, stay tuned to WeatherNation for more updates on Hurricane Florence, and the rest of the tropics. September is typically the most active month in the tropical season. And more storms are almost certain to form.
For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Matt Monroe with contribution from Meteorologist Steve Glazier