Hurricane Florence as seen from the International Space Station
Forecasters say the eye of Hurricane Florence is getting bigger as they are zeroing in on where it will make landfall later this week.
In fact, the entire storm is growing as it approaches the Carolina coastline, where it is expected to hit on Thursday night.
As of 4 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Hurricane Florence was between 200-250 miles wide, according to Doug Anderson with the National Weather Service office in Columbia, South Carolina.
That width measures the tropical force winds generated by Florence, which Anderson said were blowing at speeds from 39 to 73 mph.
After briefly shrinking, and nearly closing over Monday night, the eye of the hurricane has expanded to 32 miles wide, as of 4 p.m., according to Anderson.
As of 4 p.m., the hurricane force winds associated with Florence were 90-100 miles wide, and the maximum sustained winds were clocked at 130 mph, according to the National Weather Service, which reported that the wind gusts were even higher.
Anderson said that Hurricane Florence is expected to regain speed over the next 12 to 24 hours, at which time the eye will become more defined and the size of the storm could increase.
“It’s important not to focus on the center line of the hurricane when you look at forecasts,” Anderson told The State. “You need to look at the cone,” which he said currently spans the distance from South Carolina’s Edisto Beach to the border between North Carolina and Virginia — a distance of about 500 miles.
The meteorologist added that Hurricane Florence will continue to fluctuate in size, but it is on track to be “on the upper end of size of hurricanes we’ve seen in the recent past,” which has included devastating storms such as Matthew in 2016, and Harvey, Irma and Maria last year.