Florence has strengthened to 85 MPH winds, and continues its track toward the North Carolina Coast.
The National Hurricane Center is predicting a Carolina landfall as a catastrophic Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 140 mph sometime late Thursday.
This latest forecast also shows Florence slowing down, and perhaps stalling once making landfall. This would be the scenario that would bring the most rain to the Roanoke/Lynchburg area. Flooding will be a real concern.
Below are the updated tracks and wind fields. Below that is today's original update.
As expected, Florence has been re-upgraded to hurricane status and is heading toward the east coast.
Florence top winds are now 75mph, the minimal level considered as 'hurricane strength'. Forecasters, however, now say Florence will rapidly intensify from here, likely becoming a category 4 hurricane before making landfall sometime Thursday or Friday.
The exact path of the storm is still in question, but models continue to converge toward a North Carolina landfall. The center of the current 'cone of forecast' projects landfall somewhere between Wilmington and Jacksonville.
Models also suggest once ashore, Florence could track northwest through Raleigh and then into southern and central Virginia. It is possible that it would still be at category 2 strength through central North Carolina, and tropical storm strength well into Virginia.
Regardless of strength, assuming this track holds, the one sure thing Florence would bring is drenching rains into Virginia.
There still is very much uncertainty in the track. There is also much model guidance that keeps the storm at sea, curving northward as it approaches the coast. But this particular track guidance does seem to less possible with each passing run. Also the National Weather Service forecast maps seem to favor the North Carolina landfall models.
Given current indications, direct impact to central and southwest Virginia will be Friday and after. Best case: Florence turns back out to sea, before making landfall, perhaps some gusty winds and a few stray showers over Roanoke/Lynchburg.
Worst case: Tropical Storm Florence drops 10-15 inches of rain Friday into Saturday with sustained 50 mph winds and higher gusts.
Either way, Florence will be a main point of conversation all week in Virginia.
Also of note, there are now a total of three named storms in the Atlantic: Florence, Isaac, and Helene. Currently Helene is expected to not be a threat to land. Isaac is heading toward the Caribbean, currently expected to stay south of Puerto Rico and Cuba, but perhaps something to watch in the Gulf of Mexico next week. (see the latest on Isaac below)
Will Stafford of ABC 13 has his Sunday thoughts here: ABC 13
Hurricane Florence Advisory Number 41
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL062018
1100 AM AST Sun Sep 09 2018
...FLORENCE FORECAST TO RAPIDLY INTENSIFY INTO A MAJOR HURRICANE BY
SUMMARY OF 1100 AM AST...1500 UTC...INFORMATION
ABOUT 750 MI...1210 KM SE OF BERMUDA
ABOUT 610 MI...985 KM NE OF THE NORTHERN LEEWARD ISLANDS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...75 MPH...120 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 270 DEGREES AT 6 MPH...9 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...984 MB...29.06 INCHES
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.
DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK
At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the center of Hurricane Florence was
located by a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft near latitude 24.4
North, longitude 56.3 West. Florence is moving toward the west near
6 mph (9 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue
today. A west-northwestward motion with an increase in forward
speed is expected by Monday, and that motion is forecast to continue
through mid-week. On the forecast track, the center of Florence
will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and
the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the southeastern
U.S. coast on Thursday.
Aircraft data indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased
to near 75 mph (120 km/h) with higher gusts. Florence is forecast
to rapidly strengthen to a major hurricane by Monday, and is
expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles (30 km) from the
center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles
The latest minimum central pressure reported by a NOAA Hurricane
Hunter Aircraft is 984 mb (29.06 inches).
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
SURF: Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda and are
beginning to reach portions of the U.S. East Coast. These swells
are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current
conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.
Next complete advisory at 500 PM AST.