Florence becomes a hurricane; 2 other storms gain strength

The cyclone is bound for the US east coast

The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) has announced it is canceling classes and issuing a voluntary evacuation for students as Hurricane Florence, a strong Category 1 storm as of late Sunday that's expected to strengthen in the coming days, approaches the Carolina coast.

Landfall is expected in the Carolinas later this week, said the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Tropical storm-force winds could start hitting the Cape Fear region and Fayetteville overnight Wednesday and Thursday morning.

Right now, the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center has Hurricane Florence becoming a "major hurricane" sometime Monday.

Swells generated by Florence already were impacting Bermuda and starting to reach the US coast, with life-threatening surf and rip current conditions likely, according to the NHC.

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The latest models on Saturday show that it's becoming less likely the storm will veer north and miss the mainland US entirely. Forecasters also warned that the threat of a life-threatening storm surge was rising.

The NHC was also tracking two other storms farther out in the Atlantic.

A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch are in effect for the Cabo Verde islands of Santiago, Fogo, and Brava. Signs, roofing material, and other items left outside can become flying missiles during hurricanes.

It's still uncertain whether Hurricane Olivia will make landfall in the Hawaiian Islands, but at minimum meteorologists believe it will come very close and deliver a new round of rainfall.

As of Sunday, the National Weather Service expected anywhere from 2 inches of rain in the western half of the state to more than 7 inches in the central and eastern sections.

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Swells generated by Florence could cause unsafe rip currents and coastal flooding Saturday in areas including coastal DE and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.

"That is pretty warm for this time of year and it will help keep the hurricane's intensity up as it nears the coast", he said. Cooper urged residents to "review your emergency plans and gather your supplies now". Have food and water on hand. Take note of the hotline in case of emergencies there.

The governors of North and SC and Virginia declared states of emergency to give them time to prepare, and the Navy said ships in Virginia's Hampton Roads area would leave port for their own safety.

The second week of September is the peak of hurricane season, so the flurry of activity is no surprise to forecasters.

The track models are not yet certain where the storm may go.

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