TAMPA (FOX 13) - Florence has now become the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season. The storm gained Category 4 strength Wednesday with winds of 130 mph.
Over the next 48 hours, Florence may weaken some as it enters into an area of higher wind shear. After that, the wind shear will decrease and water temperatures increase, so Florence will likely strengthen again.
The current track continues to move it west-northwest over the open Atlantic into early next week. But areas along the East Coast should closely monitor the storm as the latest model runs are hinting at the possibility of a more westerly track late next week, which would mean impacts along the U.S.
Further out in the Atlantic, already another tropical wave is getting better organized as it moves off the African coast and has a 90-percent chance of development over the next five days. It will likely become a tropical depression by the end of the week.
As it moves west, it will encounter dry air and cooler-than-average water. If it can hold together and overcome the dry air as it moves into the western Atlantic, its next hurdle is higher wind shear over the Caribbean.
Following close on its heels, yet another tropical wave will move off the African coast in a few days. It has a 30-percent chance of development as it moves west into the eastern Atlantic this weekend. Models are suggesting this wave will turn more to the north in the central Atlantic, in between two ridges of high pressure.
Meanwhile, Gordon has been downgraded to a tropical depression and will become a remnant low over the next 48 hours. The system has already brought heavy rain to the Florida Panhandle and will continue to dump rain as it moves north as far as Illinois. Isolated spots will see 12 inches of rain, with widespread totals between 4 and 8 inches. Flash flooding is a concern into Saturday.