Florence could cause unsafe surf and rip currents along parts of the U.S. East Coast this weekend as the storm swirls across the Atlantic, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced the declaration in a news release Friday evening as the storm neared Bermuda.
The United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) revealed Friday that Hurricane Florence had weakened to a tropical storm, but is expected to strengthen back into a major hurricane by the weekend.
Forecasters said it was too soon to tell where the storm would go.
"We are entering the peak of hurricane season and we know well the unpredictability and power of these storms", Cooper said.
Florence should track south of Bermuda early next week but will be close enough to bring gusty winds and unsafe surf conditions.
There's a good chance that Florence - which formed near the Cabo Verde Islands last weekend - could curve northward and then out to sea, producing only rough surf, strong rip currents and large offshore swells, AccuWeather.com reported.
The National Hurricane Center is monitoring a couple of other tropical waves in the eastern Atlantic that it says are likely to develop into tropical storms in the next several days. That gives us some time to prepare but don't wait.
On Wednesday, Florence became the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, with maximum sustained winds peaking at 130 miles per hour, making it a Category 4 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was centered about 905 miles (1,457 kilometers) east-southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 8 mph (13 kph).