Could Florence be a potential East Coast hurricane threat?

As of Wednesday morning, Hurricane Florence gained category 3 hurricane status with winds over 100 mph, making it the second strongest storm of the 2018 hurricane season. The storm is moving through the eastern Atlantic along the water waters of the equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Florence developed from a tiny cluster of thunderstorms over Africa and quickly gained hurricane status Tuesday. The system is expected to remain on a westward motion moving towards the United State through Sunday.

Meteorologist Mike Masco and the FOX 29 Weather Authority team have monitored forecast trends over the last 24 hours and have observed interesting trends with this system.

"The overnight ensemble guidance which blends 52 model runs into one picture has taken a dramatic turn west with Hurricane Florence bringing it very close to the East Coast by the middle of next week. The guidance remains fuzzy as to how it will handle the eventual track of this system but like any tropical system this storm needs to be watched closely."

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Masco notes that storms this far north in the Atlantic usually are forced out to sea but this one may have a very unique track!

"What we are seeing show up in our guidance is a rare configuration of the jet stream that is tucked further west, causing the high heat we are dealing with this week. If this remains the case going into next week it leaves the east coast vulnerable to a potential strike on the east coast."

Masco says there are two scenario's to consider going forward:

Scenario 1: Cold front/trough is delayed or never makes it east while a strong ridge/high builds over the northern Atlantic. This situation would slingshots the tropical system due west into the southeastern US.

Scenario 2: Cold front sweeps east and settles off the eastern seaboard while a mid-Atlantic ridge builds over the Atlantic. This situation allows for a window to form forcing the storm out to sea.

"Climatology tells us that scenario 2 is the most plausible idea. The problem with waiving the all-clear flag is the lack of model guidance support we have presently! The European forecast model ensembles took a massive turn west (Scenario 1) which holds a large weight in the forecast ahead."

Meteorologists say this system will bring rough surf the east coast as early as Sunday while placing Bermuda in the path for strong winds later this weekend.

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