Strengthening Hurricane Florence takes aim at U.S. Southeast

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Top winds for Hurricane Florence grew to 105 miles (169 kilometers) per hour as it pushed westward toward the U.S. East Coast, a major threat to homes, agriculture and the waning tourist season.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Olivia is now a Category 1 storm with winds of 75 mph, and is approximately 595 miles east-northeast of Hilo, Hawaii, as of 5 p.m. local time Sunday.

Florence is now forecast to approach the North Carolina or SC coast by Thursday, although tropical storm-force winds from the system could reach the coast as early as Wednesday.

"Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said in its latest bulletin.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper also urged his state's residents to get ready, noting the storm already was generating swelling waves and unsafe currents along the coast.

Most of the hurricane forecast models analyzed by the National Hurricane Center are in general agreement, but one model remained an outlier Sunday in regard to where Hurricane Florence will make landfall.

Hurricane-force winds could buffet the Carolinas by Wednesday night with landfall likely in SC and North Carolina on Thursday, followed by heavy rains that could cause flooding in much of the US Southeast, the NHC said.

The U.S. Navy is sending almost 30 of its Virginia-based ships out to sea as Hurricane Florence barrels toward the Atlantic Coast.

The hurricane center warned that the swells are likely to cause "life-threatening" surf and current conditions.

Florence is actually the lone major hurricane of the season so far as it was initially a category 4 hurricane in the open Atlantic before weakening and now restrengthening again.

Need a better idea of how strong and unsafe Hurricane Florence may become: "Florence's environment has grown much more conducive for intensification, so much so that over the past day, NHC has made their most aggressive rapid intensification forecasts since at least 1998 for an Atlantic storm..." reports Weather Underground.

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President Trump, who received sharp criticism past year for his handling of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, took to Twitter Monday to urge East Coast residents to seek safety.

Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Saturday in anticipation of the potential impact from Tropical Storm Florence. The confidence in a North Carolina landfall Thursday night is growing, but there's still room for improvement regarding model disagreement. It's expected to strengthen through Tuesday before beginning to weaken.

Florence is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir- Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

It was centered about 1,240 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear and moving west at 13 mph. Smithfield Foods Inc., the No. 1 hog producer, and chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. saw their North Carolina operations disrupted in 2016 due to flooding from Hurricane Matthew.

Still, it remains unclear where Florence will make landfall, and, therefore, which areas will feel the worst impact.

At the same time, the Met Service said Helene is moving towards the west near 22 km/h, and this motion is expected to continue through today.

Florence became a hurricane again once winds reached 74 miles per hour.

Florencewill probably create more wind than Hurricane Hugo and more water than Hurricane Matthew, McMaster warned.

It stated there is an "increasing risk of life threatening hazards" from storm surge and heavy rainfall but noted it was too early to determine the exact location, timing and magnitude of these impacts. It is expected to accelerate during the next 36 hours and head into the eastern Caribbean Sea by Thursday.

"Traffic was backed up for about 9 miles (14 km) in places", said Paul Jones, a retiree who owns a vacation home on Hatteras Island.

Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 miles per hour (220 kph) as it moved west-northwest at 13 miles per hour (20 kph). Weakening is forecast to begin by the middle of the week.