MIAMI – The National Hurricane Center said on Monday afternoon that the eye of Hurricane Florence – now a Category 4 storm – is located about 525 miles (845 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda and 1,170 miles (1,880 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, with the storm packing sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph) and moving to the west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).
For the moment, the Miami-based NHC has issued no hurricane watches or warnings for the US East Coast, but it said it could do so on Tuesday morning, adding that the storm is expected to hit the Carolina coastline on Thursday night or Friday morning with winds exceeding 130 miles (209 km) per hour.
The latest data on the storm was obtained by an NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft dispatched to monitor Florence.
“Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday,” said the NHC, adding that storm swells in Bermuda and parts of the US East Coast “are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
In a special noon advisory on Monday, the NHC had said “Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen ... (and) is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.”
Meanwhile, one man drowned and several other people were injured on the weekend on central Florida beaches amid heavy waves caused by Florence.
Emergency rescue personnel pulled Steven Kolaczewski, 64, unconscious from the water off New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and immediately transported him to a nearby hospital but doctors could not save him.
On Sunday, emergency personnel on the beaches of Florida’s east-central Volusia County rescued some 13 people from the ocean waters, some of them with injuries from the high waves and the undertow being caused by Hurricane Florence, authorities told local channel WKMG.
In addition, a 33-year-old woman from Colorado suffered a broken arm and another bather suffered neck and back injuries on the beach at Daytona Beach, also in Volusia County, after being hit by high waves and dragged along the ocean bottom by the rip current.