WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Tropical Storm Florence is forecast to regain hurricane status and be a major hurricane when it approaches the East Coast but whether it does more than just approach is still unclear.

Even if it doesn't hit the coast, Florence has the potential to wreak havoc along the shore, according to a bulletin issued by the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, N.C.

The storm, currently southeast of Bermuda, is forecast to move west-northwest over the next five days.

"Confidence is high that rip currents will strengthen over the weekend and rough surf will begin next week," Mark Bacon with the weather service wrote in an 11 a.m. briefing on the storm.

"There is much uncertainty regarding the longer range track as to how close Florence gets to the US East Coast," Bacon wrote in the briefing.

"Initial swell waves arrive today -- leading to string rip currents over the weekend. These will continue into next week while breaking wave heights grow large," Bacon wrote in the briefing.

The center of the storm's cone of probability places the storm west of the Georgia/Florida state line and southeast of Cape Hatteras at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, with the path projected to take Florence well south of Bermuda and well north of the Caribbean.

"All interests in the Carolinas should closely monitor the progression of TS Florence. Be cautious of information you see on social media. Be aware of fake weather information and use trusted sources," Bacon wrote in the briefing.

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