The potential track of Tropical Storm Florence on Friday.

The potential track of Tropical Storm Florence on Friday. Credit: NOAA

The risk that the East Coast will be directly impacted by Tropical Storm Florence — which is well out to sea at the moment — has increased, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. Friday forecast update.

“However, there is still very large uncertainty in model forecasts of Florence's track” for mid-week, “making it too soon to determine the exact location, magnitude, and timing of these impacts,” the updated outlook said.

Already swells from the storm were making their way to Bermuda Friday. They were expected to start affecting parts of the East Coast on Saturday and Sunday.

The system is forecast to regain hurricane strength on Sunday, and be back to Category 4 level by Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Long Island area will likely see related impacts through Thursday and possibly beyond, according to the National Weather Service’s Upton office.

“Swell arrives over the weekend, and increases through the week,” the weather service said.

There is also a high risk for rip currents, with high surf conditions meaning potential beach erosion, the weather service said.

“That’s as far as we go,” at this stage, said Jay Engle, weather service meteorologist in Upton.

But he echoed the hurricane center’s call for those near the East Coast to “monitor the progress of Florence through the weekend and ensure they have their hurricane plans in place.”

Indeed, Long Islanders “need to watch tropics,” said Rich Hoffman, News 12 Long Island meteorologist.

His advice: “Right now Long Islanders may want to check insurance papers and start thinking of — if the storm is close — what they would do.”

Looking to gather more information, a hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to conduct a research mission Saturday, “which should provide some useful wind data and give us a better handle on the cyclone's intensity,” the hurricane center said.

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