Tropical Storm Florence turns into a hurricane

MIAMI — Forecasters say Tropical Storm Florence has turned into a hurricane and is swirling toward the East Coast for what could be a direct hit toward the end of the week.

The storm’s sustained winds reached 75 mph, just over the threshold for a hurricane, on Sunday morning as it was swirling across the Atlantic, about 750 miles southeast of Bermuda. It was moving west at 6 mph.

The National Hurricane Center says it is still too early to predict the hurricane’s exact path, but a huge coastal area from northern Florida to North Carolina should prepare for a major hit.

The Miami-based center defines a major hurricane as one with wind speed greater than 110 mph.

A “rapid intensification” was expected to begin Sunday. The storm was centered about 765 miles southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 6 mph.

It is forecast to approach the southeastern U.S. coast on Thursday.

The hurricane center said it was still too early to predict its exact path. But forecasters said that the risk of “direct impacts continues to increase” and that a huge coastal area from northern Florida to North Carolina should prepare for a major hit.

The governors of North and South Carolina and Virginia declared states of emergency to give them time to prepare, and the Navy said ships in Virginia’s Hampton Roads area would leave port for their own safety.

Dangerous swells generated by Florence affected Bermuda and have begun to reach parts of the Eastern Seaboard.

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