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Thursday was wait-and-see day for forecasters watching Hurricane Florence. Friday and Saturday could well be more of the same.

But come Sunday, that will change.

Florence on Thursday weakened to a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds. 

By Sunday, the storm is expected to turn more to the north — and that would be the telling turn for where the hurricane is going.

Landfall would be expected Wednesday or later.

On Monday, NOAA planned to start Hurricane Hunter flights into the storm to provide more exacting data of its potential course and strength.

The "cone" of areas where the storm could head was adjusted Thursday to include the waters off South Carolina. But computer model forecast runs continued to suggest the storm will make landfall farther north, if at all.

By Thursday evening, the storm had closed to within 1,000 miles of both Bermuda and the East Coast.

Behind Florence, two more storms are emerging off Africa in the tropical Atlantic and both are expected to be tropical storms or worse by Tuesday. What happens with Florence could decide whether they track toward the outer Caribbean islands and potentially the Southeast, forecasters said.

Forecasters were far from settled on where Florence might head.

"It is important to note that deterministic (computer) track models in these types of situations often display considerable run-to-run changes, and the uncertainty in this (Thursday evening) forecast remains larger than normal," said National Hurricane Center specialists Robbie Berg and Jamie Rhome.

"We are watching every run of numerical guidance and waiting to see more consistency each day," said Charleston-based meteorologist Shea Gibson, with the private company WeatherFlow. 

Florence strengthened from a tropical storm Tuesday morning to a monster Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds by Wednesday evening in what Weather Underground meteorologist Bob Henson called "one of the most unexpected and striking cases of rapid intensification seen over the open Atlantic in recent years."

Weather Underground is a private forecasting company.

"There remains a great deal of uncertainty over the specifics of Florence’s track next week, but there are increasing signs that it could draw near enough to the U.S. East Coast to bring multiple days of pounding waves and swells, and an East Coast landfall is well within the realm of possibility," Henson said.

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Reach Bo Petersen Reporter at Facebook, @bopete on Twitter or 1-843-937-5744.

Science and environment reporter. Author of Washing Our Hands in the Clouds.

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