Florence Weakens Slightly to Category 3

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Hurricane Florence has gotten a little bit weaker but it remains a very large and dangerous storm.

At 2 p.m., the storm was centered 435 miles (700 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving at 16 mph (26 kph).

It’s a potentially catastrophic Category 3 storm with 125 mph (205 kph) maximum sustained winds.

Some fluctuations in strength are expected through Thursday morning. Florence will weaken once it stops drawing energy from warm ocean waters, but it’s still expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday as an extremely dangerous major hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center says a buoy about 100 miles northeast of Florence’s eye has clocked hurricane-force wind gusts and sustained winds of 53 mph (85 kph).

Florence is the most dangerous of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

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