The first hurricane of the Atlantic season has gained
strength and is expected to attain Category 2 status as it
reaches the North Carolina coast, where thousands of
vacationers scrubbed their July Fourth holiday plans amid
Hurricane Arthur was about 175km south-southwest of Cape
Fear, North Carolina, with current maximum sustained winds of
145kmh, US forecasters said.
Moving faster at 17kmh, the centre of the storm was now
expected to brush close to the North Carolina Outer Banks
late on Thursday and early on Friday (local time) with winds
reaching up to 170kmh, according to the US National Hurricane
Centre in Miami.
Arthur would be the first hurricane to hit the US since
Superstorm Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey in
October 2012 and caused $US70 billion estimated damage.
After passing over the Outer Banks, Arthur should accelerate
toward the northeast and remain offshore on Friday as it
diminishes in strength, posing no serious risk to the
northeastern United States, forecasters said.
"The worst of Arthur's wind will remain offshore, but some
strong, gusty squalls will affect the North Carolina barrier
islands," said Dan Kottlowski, a hurricane expert at
The storm disrupted plans for holiday beachgoers and others
ordered off low-lying barrier islands in the storm's path.
Tourists and some residents packed ferries and crowded the
only highway off Ocracoke and Hatteras islands, where
voluntary and mandatory evacuations were in effect in
anticipation of worsening weather conditions.
"Pre-storm jitters and preparation," Dare County Commissioner
Allen Burrus said of the mood early on Thursday. "Right now
it is beautiful, but it is going to deteriorate around 5 or 6
Some locals said they would ride out the storm. Retiree Gerry
Lebing, who owns a home in Waves on Hatteras Island, said he
was tying things down at his house and moving cars to higher
ground to avoid damage from the potential storm surge.
While the worst of Arthur's winds were expected to remain
offshore, the storm could bring life-threatening rip currents
and a storm surge of up to 1.2m to North Carolina's barrier
islands, forecasters said.
North Carolina officials warned that the narrow 50-mile
Highway 12 connecting Hatteras Island to the mainland could
become impassable due to storm surge. The state was putting
extra heavy equipment in place to remove sand and the
overwash as soon as possible after the storm passes.
Part of the highway was cut by storm surge for two months
after Sandy, forcing residents to use ferries to reach the
Officials asked residents to stay out of rough waters and to
avoid driving through high water.
"Don't put your stupid hat on," North Carolina Governor Pat
McCrory told a press conference. "We anticipate a beautiful
holiday weekend after Hurricane Arthur is out of North
State officials said 105 National Guard members have been
deployed to help with storm preparation and safety, and 400
state troopers are assisting with the evacuation efforts.
"There could be loss of electricity, there could be
restaurants closing, there could be cars flooding and roads
could be compromised," Hyde County manager Bill Rich said.
Several towns and villages on North Carolina's coast
rescheduled Independence Day festivities and fireworks as the
Farther up the coast, the resort town of Ocean City,
Maryland, moved its July Fourth fireworks display to Saturday
because of the storm.
Boston officials also moved up to Thursday a nationally
televised concert by the Boston Pops and a fireworks display,
which draw hundreds of thousands of spectators to the city's