After forming near the Cabo Verde islands last weekend, Florence became a hurricane on Tuesday and briefly strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday afternoon before being downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane again Wednesday evening.
While Florence is likely to fluctuate in strength due to cool water and disruptive winds into the end of the week, its projected path takes the hurricane over very warm water with low wind shear this weekend into next week.
Wind shear is the increase in wind speed and change in wind direction with either increasing altitude or over a horizontal distance.
"An area of high pressure over the central Atlantic will bridge westward and join with an existing high pressure near the U.S. East coast over the next several days," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
"This setup will guide Florence on a west to northwesterly course into next week," Kottlowski said.
If the high pressure area weakens next week, then Florence may be able to curve northward then northeastward out to sea with impacts limited to an indirect nature in the U.S.
However, if the high pressure area remains strong, then Florence may complete a 3,500-mile-long journey over the Atlantic and be guided right into the U.S. East Coast somewhere from the Carolinas to southern New England sometime during Wednesday or Thursday of next week.
Prior to the chance of Florence reaching the U.S. East Coast, Bermuda may be in the direct path of the storm, even if the storm begins to curve.
If current estimates are correct, "Florence will be in Bermuda waters on Tuesday," Kottlowski said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Alex Sosnowski is an AccuWeather senior meteorologist.