Florence Will Flirt With Category 5 Strength 

(Bloomberg) -- Hurricane Florence is expected to flirt with Category 5 strength as it approaches the U.S. East Coast this week, falling just short of the level seen by Floridians in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew devastated the state.

Florence’s winds are forecast to reach 155 miles (249 kilometers) per hour by Tuesday evening, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a 5 p.m. New York time bulletin. That’s just below the 157 mph threshold needed to reach Category 5 strength, the most powerful on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale,

Andrew was the last Category 5 hurricane to hit the U.S., said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Forecasters don’t believe Florence will maintain its maximum strength as it nears the coast Thursday. However, by that point it will be so large it will pose a grave storm-surge threat to the shoreline and its winds could reach far inland.

“The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity,” U.S. Hurricane Specialist Eric Blake wrote in a forecast analysis.

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