MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Storm Florence is becoming a "better organized" weather system that will likely strengthen into a hurricane late Saturday, weather forecasters said.
The National Hurricane Center said Saturday the storm was expected to become a "major hurricane" by Tuesday as it passes between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday. The storm is expected to approach the southeast U.S. Coast on Thursday.
Officials in North Carolina were already bracing for impact.
Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency on Friday evening, urging residents to use the weekend to prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster.
"We are entering the peak of hurricane season and we know well the unpredictability and power of these storms," Cooper said.
South Carolina's Emergency Management Division also advised coastal residents to start making contingency plans.
Swells generated by Florence could cause dangerous rip currents and coastal flooding Saturday in areas including coastal Delaware and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.
At 11 a.m. EDT, the Miami-based hurricane center said Florence's maximum sustained winds were estimated to be 65 mph (100 kph). The storm was centered about 835 miles (1340 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 7 mph (11 kph).