Weather

Florence expected to become a hurricane again by Sunday. What it means for the Carolinas

The winds associated with what is now called Tropical Storm Florence are strengthening.

The storm sat about 1,500 miles east of the U.S. Eastern seaboard at 5 a.m. Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Florence was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm on Thursday, but is expected to become a major hurricane as it approaches the East Coast.

Tropical storm-force winds are expected to reach the southeast part of the coast as soon as Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Deadly riptides could result, the Charlotte Observer reported.

At that point, the storm is expected to be at least a Category 3, with winds of 111-129 mph, and possibly a Category 4, which would carry winds of 130-156 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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So what’s the difference between a hurricane and a tropical storm? It’s all about wind speed, according to the Weather Channel.

The difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane is when maximum sustained wind speeds associated with the storm hit 74 mph, or 64 knots, the Weather Channel reports, even though the real difference between the impact of 75 mph winds versus 70 mph is almost negligible.

Hurricane Hugo, in 1989, was the last storm to hit the Carolinas at Category 4. At that time, Hugo was the costliest hurricane ever to hit the Carolina coast, and remains one of the biggest ever to batter South Carolina, according to the National Weather Service.

Bermuda, about 650 miles from the East Coast, is expected to see Florence’s effects first. Tropical storm-force winds are expected to batter the island at some point Monday, the National Weather Service reports.

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