Storm prompts North Carolina State of Emergency

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However, both the NHC and AccuWeather said experts expect her to gain strength this weekend and become a hurricane again as she moves over much warmer water on what's expected to be a 3,500-mile trip.

Although she lost some of her punch before dawn Friday, Tropical Storm Florence is expected to regain her strength and push close to Bermuda and the East Coast - right on time for hurricane season. Large swells were likely to start hitting the British island territory in the north Atlantic Ocean on Friday. Some forecast models showed Florence slamming into land by late next week, while others indicated the storm would curve away from shore.

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.

South Carolina's Emergency Management Division also advised coastal residents to start making contingency plans.

Florence should track south of Bermuda early next week but will be close enough to bring gusty winds and risky surf conditions.

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Meanwhile, two low pressure systems off the coast of Africa behind Florence also had high chances of developing into tropical storms, forecasters said.

While Accuweather.com is tracking several different potential paths for the storm, the East Coast of the USA will feel the impact of Florence regardless.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm's maximum sustained winds early Friday were estimated to be 65 miles per hour (104 kph).

But increased wind shear over the open Atlantic - the storm is more than 1,600 miles from the East Coast - has weakened Florence to a tropical storm, with 65-mph winds as of 5 a.m. Friday.

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