Hurricane Florence strengthened rapidly into a major hurricane on Wednesday morning. At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Hurricane Florence was located at latitude 22.0°N and longitude 45.7°W which put it about 1370 miles (2205 km) east-southeast of Bermuda. Florence was moving toward the northwest at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 125 m.p.h. (205 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 145 m.p.h. (235 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 957 mb.
Hurricane Florence strengthened rapidly on Wednesday morning. A small circular eye formed at the center of circulation. A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounded the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms. Several bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Hurricane Florence. Storms near the core were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the hurricane.
The circulation of Hurricane Florence is small. Winds to hurricane force extend out about 20 miles (30 km) from the center of circulation. Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 95 miles (155 km) from the center. The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Florence is 23.6. The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 7.0 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 30.6.
Hurricane Florence will move through an environment capable of supporting a strong hurricane. Florence is currently over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 27°C and it will move over warmer water during the next several days. An upper level trough north of Florence is producing westerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the hurricane. However, those winds do not seem to be creating significant vertical wind shear. Hurricane Florence could maintain its intensity and there is a chance it could get stronger when it moves over warmer water. Because of the small circulation, if there are changes in the environment around Hurricane Florence, then the intensity could change quickly. Also, any eyewall replacement cycles could cause the intensity to fluctuate.
Hurricane Florence will move south of a subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean. The high will steer Florence in a general northwesterly direction during the next few days. On its anticipated track Hurricane Norman could be southeast of Bermuda by early next week. The guidance from the numerical models has been variable and there is still much uncertainty about the track Hurricane Florence will take later next week.
Elsewhere, Tropical Depression Gordon was dropping rain on Alabama and Mississippi. At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Depression Gordon was located at latitude 32.3°N and longitude 90.2°W which put it about 5 miles (10 km) west of Jackson, Mississippi. Gordon was moving toward the northwest at 14 m.p.h. (22 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 30 m.p.h. (50 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 1008 mb.