FIRST ALERT: Florence weakening slightly, track questions remain

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    MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – After defying the odds and strengthening to a category 4 storm, Florence has now weakened slightly to a category 3 major hurricane with winds of 115 mph.

    HURRICANE FLORENCE

    Wind shear and dry air as well as an eyewall replacement cycle have taken a toll on Florence. It will most likely continue to weaken slightly to a category 2 hurricane before restrengthening to a cat. 3 by early next week.

    According to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center, at 5 a.m., Florence is moving toward the northwest near 12 mph, and this general motion is expected to continue through today. A turn toward the west-northwest with a decrease in forward speed is forecast to begin tonight, followed by a turn back toward the northwest early next week.

    Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles.

    The forecast track of Florence is fairly straight-forward through the weekend, but uncertainty remains very high about what happens to Florence next week. Florence will have an option to gradually turn northward early next week and avoid any kind of threat to the US east coast. If Florence misses the chance to turn north, a large area of high pressure could result in the storm turning back to the west and nearing the east coast of the US by late next week. Both scenarios remain on the table at this point. More clarification to the forecast will develop by the weekend. Because of the high uncertainty, the First Alert Weather team is raising the threat level slightly to “watch it closely”. This means you should stay up to date with any changes in the forecast track of Florence.

    WATCHING TWO OTHER DISTURBANCES

    Shower activity associated with a broad area of low pressure centered a couple of hundred miles south-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands is gradually becoming better organized. Environmental conditions are forecast to be conducive for additional development, and a tropical depression is expected to form during the next couple of days while the system moves west-northwestward across the tropical Atlantic Ocean.

    A tropical wave is forecast to move off the west coast of Africa in a few days. Some development of the system is possible over the weekend while the wave moves westward over the far eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean. This particular area of interest looks to be more of an issue for the Caribbean and bears watching as well.

    Remember to keep up with the latest forecast tracks of any tropical systems on the First Alert Weather app:

    APPLE: http://apple.co/1ew0w0h

    ANDROID: http://bit.ly/1i4ljWi

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