(WMC) - Florence has undergone some major strengthening since yesterday when it was a category 2 storm and today its a category 4 (130-156 mph) storm with maximum sustained winds at 130 mph. This is major hurricane strength to state the obvious. Unfortunately, this storm could strengthen even more and the worst part of it is, this dangerous storm is expected to make landfall as at least cat 4. This storm hits close to home for me because I am from coastal Virginia and my family still lives there.
Some of the reasons this storm may be able to obtain more strength is due to the favorable environment that it is in. It will be in an environment with improving atmospheric conditions where there is very little wind shear and the warm water 85 degree temperatures in the Atlantic continue to fuel the storm. Wind shear is the wind direction and speed as we go up in altitude. For hurricanes to strengthen, winds need to go in the same direction with height. Hurricanes don’t like opposition--by that I mean winds going in different directions with height.
What’s steering Florence currently is the Bermuda High. It’s a big dome of high pressure that sits off the east coast and can sometimes be the determining factor of where hurricanes go, especially in the Atlantic, depending on its strength and position. Right now, the high is what’s keeping Florence from turning north. The Bermuda high is fairly strong at this point. Florence is expected to move around the high which would put its track close to the Carolina’s coastline.
Some forecast models weaken the Bermuda high which would mean nothing to really steer it, after it makes landfall, if this were to be the case were, this could spell big problems for the east coast. There is no way to tell how it shakes out this soon but we will continue to update you with the latest.
The bottom line is confidence is growing in regards to Florence’s track, there could still be a few jogs to the left or right in the cone of uncertainty but the cone has been narrowing. It is definitely one to be monitored and we will be doing just that.
I know at this point you are probably on tropics overload, but we are watching three other systems that are right behind Florence. I know this is a lot to take in but thankfully the others are not imminently close. The other two named hurricanes are Helene and Isaac. It looks like Helene will stay out at sea. Isaac’s track appears to take it more on a westerly projection toward the Lesser Antilles
I did say three others…there is a tropical wave near the northwestern Caribbean Sea that has a low chance of development for the next two days but beyond that there are some models that have it developing into a Tropical Depression down the line. Several models take this wave into the Gulf of Mexico. At this point it is way too early to call, so we will see what it does in the next two days.
As always the WMC First Alert Meteorologist have got you covered with the latest information to keep you ahead. Stay Tuned!