Florence at noon: now a ‘potential threat’

Tropical Storm Florence, which is predicted to regain hurricane strength by the end of the weekend, was upgraded this morning to a potential threat to Bermuda.

The Bermuda Weather Service warned winds of tropical-storm strength are possible from Monday night, but Florence’s most significant impact on the island was likely to be rough southeasterly swells producing hazardous surf, especially on the South Shore.

At noon today, Florence was 830 miles east-southeast of the island, moving west at 7mph. Its closest point of approach to Bermuda within 72 hours was forecast to be 400 miles to the south on Tuesday at noon.

It had maximum winds of 63 knots with gusts of 75 knots.

A BWS spokesman said that Florence has now been upgraded to a potential threat to Bermuda as the centre is expected to pass within 460 miles of the island in the next 72 hours.

He said: “Tropical Storm Florence is expected to re-intensify into a Hurricane within the next 48 hours as warm sea surface temperatures and decreasing wind shear make for more favourable conditions.

“Expect heavy long period swell, especially in the southern marine areas, and strong rip currents.”

Ken Smith, a meteorologist at the BWS, said that yesterday’s thunderstorms, which could linger over the weekend, were “not at all associated with Florence”.

In keeping with September’s status as the height of hurricane season, Florence was one of four systems dotted around the Atlantic — including a trough of showers and thunderstorms southwest of Bermuda, and two tropical depressions headed west from Africa.

Mr Smith said that a hurricane’s strongest winds lie in the storm’s “right forward quadrant” from its direction of movement.

Florence, moving east to west, packs the strongest winds in its northwestern quadrant as a result.

The Emergency Measures Organisation announced yesterday that it was prepared to meet on Monday.

However, the first day of school was expected to go as scheduled that day.

The National Hurricane Centre in the United States reported that wind shear, which sapped Florence’s strength, would dwindle as the storm continued into warmer seas, with its intensity “likely to increase significantly”.