Intensifying Hurricane Florence could strike US Southeast

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is expected to become a major hurricane within a day as it crawls closer to the U.S. Atlantic seaboard.

The Miami-based center says Florence is gaining strength and is expected to become a major hurricane Monday and keep that status as a powerful and extremely dangerous storm until Thursday. At 5 p.m. EDT Sunday, Florence had top sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) and was centered about 720 miles (1,160 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda while moving westward at 7 mph (11 kph).

The center says it is still too early to predict the hurricane’s exact path, but a huge coastal area from northern Florida to North Carolina has been urged to remain on guard for the possibility of a major hit.

Elsewhere, forecasters are also monitoring Tropical Storm Helene, located just southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, and on Tropical Storm Isaac, located over the eastern Atlantic.

Of greater importance to the Rio Grande Valley is a tropical wave over the northwestern Caribbean Sea. It is producing a large area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms between Cuba and Honduras.

The system could develop once it moves into the Gulf of Mexico in a couple of days. Forecasters say it has a 20 percent chance of forming into a tropical system in the next five days.