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Tropical Storm Florence prompts North Carolina State of Emergency

MIAMI — North Carolina’s governor has declared a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Florence approaches the U.S. East Coast.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence’s maximum sustained winds Friday evening were estimated to be 65 mph (105 kph). The storm was centered about 905 miles (1,457 kilometers) east-southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 8 mph (13 kph).

Gov. Roy Cooper announced the declaration in a news release Friday evening as the storm neared Bermuda.

Cooper says it’s “too early” to know where the storm will go, but he says residents should use the weekend to prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster. Some forecast models have shown Florence slamming into land by late next week, while others indicated the storm would curve away from shore.

Cooper also waived transportation rules to help farmers harvest and transport their crops more quickly.

Florence could cause life-threatening surf and rip currents along parts of the U.S. East Coast this weekend as the storm swirls across the Atlantic.

Though weakened to a tropical storm, Florence is expected to regain hurricane strength as it nears Bermuda.

Forecasters say it’s too soon to tell where the storm will go because there’s still a lot of uncertainty in its long-term track.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm’s maximum sustained winds early Friday were estimated to be 65 mph (104 kph). Florence was centered about 985 miles (1,585 kilometers) east-southeast of Bermuda and is moving west at 7 mph (11 kph).

Forecasters say two low pressure systems off the coast of Africa behind Florence also have high chances of developing into tropical storms.

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