Tropical Storm Helene forms in eastern Atlantic

Hurricane Florence has the potential to make landfall on the East Coast but it is still too early to tell

Florence is now a tropical storm and is located about 1500 miles from Hampton Roads, moving west at 9 mph.

Wherever Florence ends up going, we will feel some of the effects along the coast and those effects will begin this weekend with rough surf, large swells, and a risk of rip currents.

It's not yet clear whether Florence will threaten the United States, although forecast tracks show it could make landfall along the Carolinas.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared the state of emergency Friday evening, calling on residents, specifically farmers, to prepare for the gathering storm.

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The National Hurricane Center said Florence's maximum sustained winds Friday evening were estimated to be 65 miles per hour. Gradual strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and the depression is expected to become a tropical storm later today and a hurricane by early next week. The expectation is that a powerful hurricane will approach the mid-East Coast of the USA next Wednesday or Thursday.

But increasing wind shear off the Atlantic interfered with the storm building, weakening the beast to a tropical storm with 65mph winds on Friday. Gradual restrengthening is forecast over the weekend and Florence is expected to become a hurricane again by Sunday and a major hurricane early next week. The WFMY News 2 Weather team predicts it may get uncomfortably close to the East Coast by the middle of next week.

Tropical Storm Helene formed late on Friday night.

The storm's maximum sustained winds are 75km/h and it is moving west at 20km/h, according to The National Hurricane Center in Miami. Most of the models are now showing Florence having a direct and major impact to the East Coast in the upcoming week.

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Florence is moving toward the west near 8 miles per hour (13 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue through Sunday. Florence, because of its weaker state, has been moving along toward the west.

Tropical Storm Helene is set to bring potential for flash-flooding as it hit Cabo Verde Islands in Africa. Or, it could make an actual landfall, with more severe impacts at the beaches, and wind & rain farther inland here in the Piedmont.

Tropical Depression 9 is located in the Atlantic Ocean and is moving westward. It is about 1,400 miles east of South Florida.

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