MIAMI: Hurricane Arthur closed in on the US East Coast Thursday, just in time for the Independence Day holiday, with forecasters warning it was on track to become a potentially destructive category-two storm.
The first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was packing maximum sustained winds of 90 miles (145 kilometers) per hour and growing in strength, forecasters said, warning North Carolina — home to many popular holiday destinations — would bear the brunt of Arthur´s fury.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said emergency preparation efforts had been made more complicated by the arrival of thousands of tourists, who have flocked to beaches for the annual summer holiday pilgrimage.
Heavy rain and strong winds lashed the North Carolina coast, but the eye of the storm was not forecast to hit until the evening, when it was expected to become a category-two storm, before heading up the coast and threatening areas as far north as Nova Scotia in Canada.
Thousands of people were already without power in the state, news reports said, and there was localized flooding in areas including the coastal city of Wilmington.”Our main issue is the health and safety of our citizens and those people who are visiting North Carolina,” McCrory said.
Emergency declarations were issued by several counties in the southern state, which opened emergency shelters and ordered evacuations in low-lying areas.”
As the hurricane moves north, more counties are likely to declare a state of emergency,” McCrory added.
National Hurricane Center forecasters warned of “large and damaging waves” and cautioned: “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
“McCrory urged residents and tourists to use common sense, to stay out of the water and out of harm´s way, with storm surges of up to five feet (1.5 meters) predicted.
“Don´t put your ´stupid hat´ on,” McCrory said.”Let´s hope for the best, pray for the best, that Arthur clears out quickly so we can all get back to celebrating our country´s independence, with our families and friends on North Carolina´s beautiful beaches.”