Scotland's weather: Storm Helene 80mph winds warning

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Isaac is expected to reach the islands, which remain under a tropical storm warning, by Thursday afternoon and cross the Caribbean through Saturday.

The hurricane will weaken as it moves over cooler water, and is expected to be downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm status before making the transition to post-tropical storm on Sunday. Isaac weakened to a tropical depression over the eastern Caribbean Sea.

Latest Isaac tropical storm image from Harry Halstrom, Pond Hill forecaster.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 60 miles per hour (95 km/h) with higher gusts.

The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday that Subtropical Storm Joyce has formed in the north Atlantic, but is not now a threat to land.

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But the real threat from Florence isn't from wind, it's from water, with the National Hurricane Center warning of "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall". "Storm surge is the main cause of the death and destruction associated with hurricanes", NBC News explained after Hurricane Ike hit Texas.

"Just because we have a landfall to the south doesn't mean your out of the woods because the wind around this storm is huge", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said Wednesday morning.

With the storm churning across the Atlantic with 140 miles per hour winds, hurricane watches and warnings include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast. It should dissipate by early next week, the hurricane center said. "Prepare for long power outages".

The storm's center was about 170 miles southeast of Wilmington at 8 a.m. Thursday, according to a National Hurricane Center briefing. Flash flooding is going to be a big issue soon - certainly catastrophic. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than three feet of rain, touching off severe flooding.

Duke Energy says damage from Hurricane Florence could cut off electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and the outages could last for weeks.

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