"During harvest, time is of the essence", Cooper said in his statement declaring the state of emergency.
Even if Florence avoids a direct hit on the East Coast, it will likely come very close, resulting in unsafe surf, beach erosion, and the potential for coastal flooding.
As the cyclone headed toward the United States east coast the governor issued the order to bypass transportation rules, so farmers could collect their crops without any delay. The weakening should level off shortly if it hasn't already and then we expect Florence to start strengthening again over the weekend.
Florence is now moving with maximum sustained winds near 100 kilometers per hour.
On Wednesday, the storm was ranked a Category 4 hurricane, packing winds up to 130 miles per hour. It has maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour, and it is moving to the west at 10 miles per hour.
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Off the coast of Africa, two waves continued to become better organized and could potentially become Helene and Isaac, the season's eight and ninth named storms.
"There is still uncertainty in the long term track but Florence is likely to be upgraded to a potential threat to Bermuda later today due to it coming within 400 nautical miles (460 miles) in the following 72 hours", the Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) said. However, environmental conditions around Florence now and over the next 24-48 hours would suggest that it remains a tropical storm/weak hurricane.
Overnight weather models show Florence taking a mostly westerly course.
Even if Florence stays out to sea, models show other systems developing over the Atlantic, nearly on cue as the hurricane season hits its peak Monday. The storm will slowly weaken over the next few days.
Helene is forecast to strengthen, with tropical storm conditions reaching the Cabo Verde Islands Saturday. Hurricane Hunters (airplanes that fly into tropical systems) are stationed in Bermuda and are preparing for flights into the storm.
As the storm moves away from the Cabo Verde Islands later Sunday, it was expected to have the opportunity to become a hurricane.