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Tracking Hurricane Arthur

RODANTHE, N.C. - by Emerio Dalesio/AP

Arthur strengthened to a hurricane early Thursday and threatened to give North Carolina a glancing blow on Independence Day, prompting the governor to warn vacationers along the coast not to risk their safety by trying to salvage their picnics and barbecues.

Watch KFDM News for the latest on the hurricane and our holiday weekend forecast. You can also stay with kfdm.com for updates.

Click here for the latest information from the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters expect Arthur to whip past the state's Outer Banks on Friday without making landfall. One local remarked that he was more worried about his tomato plants than storm damage.

But North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory warned: "Don't put your stupid hat on."

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season prompted a hurricane warning for much of the North Carolina coast and a mandatory evacuation for visitors to the Outer Banks' Hatteras Island as of 5 a.m. Thursday. Residents also were advised to leave the island. A voluntary evacuation was announced for the Outer Banks' Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry.

The islands are linked by North Carolina Route 12, which has been sliced apart twice in recent years as storms cut temporary channels from the ocean to the sound. Hatteras Island is particularly vulnerable to storm surge and flooding and the road is easily blocked by sand and water.

In addition to the hurricane warning, tropical storm warnings were in effect for coastal areas in South Carolina and Virginia.

Gary Reinhardt, 63, and his wife Lori, both of Sarasota, Florida, said they planned to exit low-lying Hatteras Island on Thursday morning. So were nearly two dozen other family members from California, Nebraska and Michigan. A long line of cars, trailers and recreational vehicles already formed a steady stream of traffic before sunset Wednesday.

"I'm worried about the road. It took way too long to get here," said Gary Reinhardt, adding that the two-and-a-half-hour delay to get on the island came Sunday, when there was no hurricane threatening. Reinhardt worried their departure would take twice as long Thursday.

Mike Rabe of Virginia Beach, Virginia, planned to stay in his beach home the entire weekend. He and his wife, Jan, arrived Wednesday at the house they bought two and a half years ago and set to work stowing lawn furniture and anything else that could be tossed about by hurricane winds. He said he was going to spend Thursday helping a friend and longtime resident prep his nearby water sports shop and campground for bad weather.

"I'm going to help him prepare and then I'm going to ride it out," said Rabe, 53.

Other areas of the Outer Banks were taking a cautious, but still-optimistic approach: No evacuations had been ordered for areas north of Hatteras, including the popular town of Kill Devil Hills, which was the site of the Wright brothers' first controlled, powered airplane flights in December 1903.

The holiday weekend was not expected to be a complete loss for the estimated quarter-million visitors vacationing on the Outer Banks. Forecasters said the storm would move through quickly with the worst of the weather near Cape Hatteras about dawn Friday. Then it was expected to clear.

In the Myrtle Beach area, the heart of South Carolina's $18 billion tourism industry, Arthur was expected to move by Thursday night, spinning wind gusts from 40 to 50 mph toward the high-rise hotels and condominiums lining the oceanfront.

Early Thursday, Arthur was about 340 miles (545 kilometers) southwest of Cape Hatteras and moving north around 9 mph (15 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

The National Hurricane Center predicted Arthur would swipe the coast early Friday with winds of up to 85 mph. The storm would be off the coast of New England later Friday and eventually make landfall in Canada's maritime provinces as a tropical storm, the Hurricane Center predicted.

"Although the current forecast doesn't indicate this will be a major impact, we are taking it very seriously," McCrory said. "I don't want you to put at risk not only yourself but also people who may try to help you."

He signed executive orders declaring a state of emergency for 25 counties and one that waives regulations allowing faster restoration of power and debris removal.

Generators, lanterns and flashlights, water and other supplies were snapped up in stores on the Outer Banks on Wednesday.

Danny Couch of Buxton, who owns and operates a company that offers bus tours of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, said local businesses have a narrow window to make their money each year.

"We've got that 15-week stretch between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and every week counts. ... The local business community holds its breath as Labor Day approaches but now we're holding our breath for July 4th," he said. "These stumbling blocks come up in front of us that have to be surmounted."

But Bill Motley, who works at Ace Hardware in Nags Head and has lived on the Outer Banks for 13 years was not too concerned about storm damage.

"I'm more worried about my tomato plants. With the wind coming, if we get a 50-mph gust, it will knock over my tomato plants," he said.

___

Associated Press writers Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, N.C.; and Tony Winton in Miami contributed to this report.

___

Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio .

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

First named storm of Atlantic hurricane season forms off Florida coast

FLORIDA - Arthur, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, has formed off the Florida coastline.

Stay with KFDM and kfdm.com for updates on Arthur.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the east coast of Florida, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach.

Interests elsewhere along the Southeast coast should monitor the progress of the system.

The center of Arthur is expected to remain just offshore and move east of the east-central coast of Florida during the next day or so.

Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph with higher gusts.  Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours.

 

Melissa now a tropical storm in north Atlantic
MIAMI (AP) -- Tropical Storm Melissa is racing over the north Atlantic and poses no land threat.

The storm's maximum sustained winds Wednesday afternoon are near 50 mph (85 kph) with little change in strength expected during the next day. But the storm is expected to begin losing tropical characteristics after that.

Melissa is centered about 980 miles (1,575 kilometers) west of the Azores and is moving east-northeast near 30 mph (48 kph).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

Subtropical Storm Melissa gets a little stronger
MIAMI (AP) -- Subtropical Storm Melissa has gained a little strength as it swirls over the central Atlantic.

The storm's maximum sustained winds early Tuesday are near 65 mph (100 kph). Additional strengthening is expected and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm could transition to a tropical storm later in the day or overnight.

Melissa is centered about 595 miles (960 kilometers) east of Bermuda and is moving north near 10 mph (17 kph).

The National Hurricane Center says large swells from the storm will continue affecting parts of the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and the southeastern Bahamas. The swells can bring life-threatening surf and rip currents.

Tropical Storm Priscilla forms near TS Octave
MIAMI (AP) -- Another tropical storm, Priscilla, has formed in the eastern Pacific south of Tropical Storm Octave, which is approaching Mexico.

Priscilla's maximum sustained winds early Monday are near 40 mph (65 kph) with some strengthening expected.

Priscilla is centered about 705 miles (1,135 kilometers) southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California and is moving north-northeast near 12 mph (19 kph).

Meanwhile, farther north, Tropical Storm Octave is maintaining its strength with maximum sustained winds near 65 mph (100 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm is expected to weaken and become a tropical depression Tuesday by the time it nears Baja California.

Octave is centered about 245 miles (390 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo San Lazaro, Mexico, and is moving north-northwest near 14 mph (22 kph).

Storm system Karen dissipates off Gulf Coast
By JANET McCONNAUGHEY and STACEY PLAISANCE
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- After days of slowing moving toward the Gulf Coast, the storm system Karen has dissipated.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says that as of Sunday morning, only remnants of Karen remain, and are moving eastward off the coast about 13 mph. Forecasters expect what remains of what had been a tropical storm to continue moving generally east over the next day to two days. Maximum sustained winds remain near 30 mph, with higher gusts, and forecasters say localized coastal flooding could still occur along portions of the coast. Rain accumulations of 1 to 3 inches are expected.

Earlier Sunday, much of the Gulf Coast began calling off preparations and evacuations as Karen weakened and stalled.

Karen threatens US during quiet hurricane season
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and KEVIN McGILL
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Though weakening slightly, Tropical Storm Karen remains poised to become the first named storm to hit the U.S. in what has been a relatively quiet hurricane season.

National Hurricane Center forecasters expect Karen to be near the central Gulf Coast on Saturday, likely as a weak hurricane or tropical storm.

Karen is about 250 miles (405 kilometers) south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 290 miles (465 kilometers) south-southeast of Morgan City, La. It's moving north-northwest at 10 mph (17 kph). Maximum sustained winds are 50 mph (85 kph).

A hurricane watch is in effect for Grand Isle, La., to west of Destin, Fla. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Morgan City, La., to the mouth of the Pearl River.

Karen is expected to produce rainfall of 3 to 6 inches through Sunday night, with isolated totals up to 10 inches possible.


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