NC gov declares state of emergency ahead of Arthur

This Tuesday, July 1, 2014, satellite image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows the center of Tropical Storm Arthur off the east coast of Florida. With the July Fourth weekend on the horizon, the Atlantic hurricane season's first named storm plodded off Florida's coast early Wednesday, though Tropical Storm Arthur wasn't yet spooking too many in the storm's potential path. (AP Photo/NOAA)

OUTER BANKS, N.C. (AP/WAVY) — Along much of the East Coast, hotel owners, tourism officials and would-be vacationers kept a watchful eye on forecasts Wednesday as Tropical Storm Arthur churned off Florida, threatening Fourth of July plans for thousands of people.

Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for the 25 coastal and adjoining inland counties that may be impacted by the storm.

Hurricane warnings and tropical storm warnings have been issued for parts of North Carolina as the first named storm of the season was expected to strengthen to a hurricane and skim the Outer Banks, a string of narrow barrier islands prone to flooding but popular for beachgoers, as a Category 1 hurricane Friday.

Some areas in southeast Virginia are also under tropical storm warnings, as of Wednesday afternoon.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Camden, Dare and Pasquotank counties. A tropical storm warning is also in effect for the following areas:

  • Bertie County
  • Chesapeake
  • Chowan County
  • Currituck County
  • Norfolk
  • Perquimans County
  • Portsmouth
  • Virginia Beach

Because of the advisories, National Park Service facilities in the Outer Banks will be closing early.

A voluntary evacuation order was issued from Hyde County. The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division will be continuing service round-the-clock from Ocracoke to Hatteras Island and will continue until the weather makes it unsafe to do so. Ferry tolls on the Ocracoke-Cedar Island and Ocracoke-Swan Quarter runs will be waived until the evacuation order is lifted.

A tropical storm watch for Florida’s east coast was canceled.

The worst of the storm should occur at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about dawn Friday, with 3 to 5 inches of rain and sustained winds up to 85 mph, said Tony Saavedra, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. The storm should move through quickly and be off the coast of New England later in the day, perhaps making landfall in Canada’s maritime provinces as a tropical storm, he said.

The motel Shutters on the Banks in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, was completely booked for the holiday weekend, general manager John Zeller said Tuesday, but he was considering waiving cancellation fees if the storm continued to track toward the area.

“We have received some cancellations but not too many,” he said. “Basically we are telling people to kind of wait and see what happens. … I think everybody is kind of watching the weather.”

Late Wednesday morning, Arthur was about 105 miles (165 kilometers) east-northeast of Cape Canaveral and about 260 miles (420 kilometers) south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. It was moving north about 7 mph (11 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph).

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