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Florence Approaches Cat 5: Rain up to 30 Inches, Storm Surge up to 12 Feet

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Although Hurricane Florence’s wind speeds have dropped slightly, they are expected to strengthen again. Experts say the storm will near category 5 status as it approaches the United States.

The Latest on Hurricanes Florence and Isaac (all times Eastern):

8 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says a new report from an Air Force Reserve Unit hurricane hunter aircraft indicates that Hurricane Florence’s top sustained winds have decreased slightly to 130 mph, with higher gusts.

Florence is still a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to regain its top wind strength in the next day or so. It remains an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night.

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The 8 a.m. forecast changes the storm surge watch for the eastern United States, with the worst impact — a surge of up to 12 feet — expected on a stretch from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout in North Carolina. The forecast says total rainfall could reach 30 inches in some places, prompting life-threatening flash flooding from South Carolina to Northern Virginia.

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5:20 a.m.

Hurricane Florence has slightly increased in speed as it heads toward the U.S. East Coast.

The National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning that Florence is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph and the storm will continue a slight increase in speed during the next couple of days.

The Miami-based center says the storm’s center was located about 410 miles south of Bermuda and about 975 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.

Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 mph as it moved west-northwest at 13 mph.

Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night.

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11:10 p.m.

Hurricane Florence continues to grow in size and magnitude as it barrels toward the U.S. East Coast.

The National Hurricane Center said Monday the monster storm will be close to Category 5 strength by Tuesday. A Category 5 storm has the potential to cause catastrophic damage.

“The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity,” the hurricane center said. Florence was a Category 4 storm late afternoon Monday.

At 11 p.m. EDT, the storm’s center was located about 465 miles south-southeast of Bermuda and about 1,085 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.

Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 mph as it moved west-northwest at 13 mph.

Some strengthening is expected during the next 36 hours, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.

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