Hurricane Florence reaches Category 2 strength and could intensify as it targets the Carolinas

ABC NEWS – The climatological peak of the hurricane season is Sept. 10 — and it shows.

Three hurricanes are churning in the Atlantic Ocean, with Hurricane Florence, now a Category 2 storm, setting its sights on the Southeast coastline of the U.S.

Florence had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, and was about 1,000 miles away from Bermuda as of 5 a.m. Eastern time. It has picked up speed and is now moving west-northwest at 9 mph.

On this path, Florence will move over very warm Atlantic waters with favorable upper-level winds for rapid intensification.

Florence should be a major Category 3 hurricane later Monday morning, and a Category 4 storm, with winds of 140 mph, by Tuesday.

By Tuesday night, it is projected to be nearly a Category 5 storm with winds near 150 mph.

Landfall somewhere in the Carolinas will be Thursday evening, possibly as a Category 4 storm.

Besides devastating storm surge and winds, catastrophic flooding is possible from Virginia to the Carolinas.

Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have all declared states of emergency ahead of the arrival of Florence.

Caribbean threat

Hurricane Isaac had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph at 5 a.m. Monday, and is moving in the direction of the eastern Caribbean.

It is expected to approach the Lesser Antilles, in the eastern Caribbean, during the day Thursday, and possibly pass over Dominica as a weak hurricane or tropical storm.

It appears likely to stay south of Puerto Rico, but some rain could spread in that direction. The island is in the cone of uncertainty, so it’s something that will continue to be monitored.

Pacific threat

In the eastern Pacific Ocean, Tropical Storm Paul and Hurricane Olivia both merit watching. Paul is not expected to make landfall anywhere, but Olivia could threaten Hawaii.

Olivia, now a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph is forecast to weaken as it heads toward the Hawaiian Islands.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for Hawaii, Maui and Oahu.

Olivia is forecast to pass over the islands sometime Tuesday night into Wednesday morning local time as a tropical storm.

Categories: National News, News, State