Forecast models on Friday showed Tropical Storm Florence gradually shifting southwest, toward the Carolinas, the (Raleigh) News & Observer reported.
However, much uncertainty remained Friday night as to the storm’s eventual track, NOAA said.
As a strengthening Florence steered toward the coast, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Friday.
The declaration waived transportation rules “to help farmers harvest and transport their crops more quickly,” Cooper said in a statement “While it’s still too early to know the storm’s path, we know we have to be prepared.”
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S.C. emergency officials also raised public alert.
“The storm is still very far away, but we’re planning accordingly,” Derrec Becker of the state’s Emergency Management Division told The (Columbia) State. “We’re asking people to know their hurricane safety plans.”
At 5 p.m., “large swells” were hitting Bermuda and could deliver “life-threatening surf and rip currents on the U.S. East Coast” this weekend, according to an alert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Florence was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane Thursday, but it could strengthen again into a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 130 mph, in the coming days, according to a midday Friday update from the hurricane center. At 5 p.m. Friday, winds were at 65 mph, according to NOAA.
In a statement, Cooper also urged North Carolinians “to take steps to prepare their families.”
NC Emergency Management urged people to fill up at the gas station, withdraw extra cash from an ATM and know which route to leave home, among other steps.