Florence, now a hurricane, has southeast US in its aim

Florence, now a hurricane, has southeast US in its aim

Florence, now a hurricane, has southeast US in its aim

Florence strengthened into a hurricane again Sunday as forecasters warned the menacing storm could deliver a brutal hit along the East Coast by the end of the week.

A rapidly strengthening Hurricane Florence churned across the Atlantic on Sunday toward a possible direct hit on the U.S. Southeast late this week, triggering warnings to people up and down the coast to get their emergency kits ready, map out escape routes and fill sandbags.

Isaac's maximum sustained winds have increased to near 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) with higher gusts.

The Miami-based weather center says Florence's maximum sustained winds are estimated to be 70 miles per hour.

Forecasters said it is now around 1,500 miles east of the Windward Islands and is carrying winds of 65mph (100kph).

The governors of Virginia, North Carolina and SC have all declared states of emergency. The storm was centered about 810 miles (1305 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 5 mph (7 kph).

"While it is too soon to determine the exact timing, location and magnitude of these impacts, interests at the coast and inland from SC into the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the progress of Florence, ensure they have their hurricane plan in place, and follow any advice given by local officials".

South Carolina's Emergency Management Division said residents should begin preparing their homes and property for the storm.

The states of North and SC and Virginia have already issued emergency declarations to help speed preparations.

The expected major hurricane could bring high surf and risky rip currents to the eastern US, including Florida's east coast, until the end of the week.

Florences effects were already being felt along the coast, with unsafe swells and rip currents in some spots.

The storm could dump between 20-40 mm of rain on the region and surrounding areas Sunday and Monday. Five days out from expected landfall, there's still wide uncertainty about where it will hit and at what intensity, but the latest models show that it's most likely to make landfall in the southeast US, between northern Florida and North Carolina.

This weekend's weather made it clear that we've reached peaked hurricane season - two are churning in the Atlantic while a third is expected by Monday.

It is moving toward the west near 11 km/h, and this general motion is expected to continue today.

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