Hurricane Florence strengthens to Category 3 storm as it barrels toward East Coast

NEW YORK — Hurricane Florence has strengthened into a Category 3 storm with 115 mph maximum-sustained winds as it swirls toward the U.S. East Coast.

Forecast models for Florence’s possible path, as of 11:15 a.m. on Sept. 8, 2018. (CNN)

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous storm by the time it nears the coast of South Carolina or North Carolina on Thursday.

As for the tri-state, it is still too early to report if the area will experience major effects or flooding from the hurricane, as its path after Thursday remains unclear.

As of 11 a.m. EDT, Florence was centered about 580 miles south-southeast of Bermuda, moving west at 13 mph.

Far behind Florence is Hurricane Isaac, which had maximum sustained winds at 75 mph. Isaac was centered about 1,150 miles east of the Windward Islands and moving west at 14 mph.

The hurricane center says Isaac is a very small hurricane and its intensity could fluctuate as it approaches the Caribbean. However it’s still expected to be at or near hurricane strength by the time it reaches the Lesser Antilles.

Forecasters said Hurricane Helene was strengthening far from land over the open Atlantic, centered about 375 miles (600 kilometers) west of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands.