Mon. 8:57 a.m.: US Marines’ base stands in line of hurricane’s bulls-eye

Map shows probable path of Hurricane Florence.

(AP) Hurricane Florence appears to be taking aim at the largest U.S. Marine Corps base on the East Coast.

Camp Lejeune has an extensive beachfront about 50 miles northeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and it’s well within the National Hurricane Center’s forecast “cone.”

The hurricane’s path was still far from certain this morning. The rapidly intensifying storm could strike a direct and dangerous blow anywhere from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic region later this week, possibly as a fearsome category 4.

If the center of the hurricane does come ashore in the Wilmington area, some of the strongest winds and rain could strike the sprawling Marine base since much of the worst weather will be in the northeast quadrant of the storm.

Camp Lejeune says in a statement that it’s urging personnel to prepare now, and will open shelters on the base if necessary.

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence is rapidly strengthening and that swells generated by the storm are affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast.

The Miami-based center said in its 5 a.m. advisory that Florence was about 625 miles southeast of Bermuda, moving west northwest at 9 mph. An increase in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days.

Its maximum sustained winds are at 105 mph. Drawing energy from the warm water, the now Category 2 storm could be a fearsome Category 4 with winds of 130 mph or more by Tuesday. Florence is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.

Hurricane Isaac is holding steady in strength over the Atlantic.

Forecasters say that storm was about 1,230 miles east of the Windward Islands, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm was moving west at 13 mph.

Isaac has become the fifth hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season.