Tropical Storm Arthur was expected to reach hurricane strength by Thursday, dousing some Fourth of July holiday plans on the East Coast as officials closed beaches and tourist sites and delayed fireworks shows in anticipation of heavy rain and fierce winds.
Hurricane and tropical storm watches were in effect on Wednesday from Florida to North Carolina after the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season strengthened overnight, forecasters said on Wednesday.
Arthur could bring up to 2 inches of rain across the eastern Florida peninsula and coastal North Carolina, and produce dangerous rip currents along the coasts of several Southern states, according to the National Hurricane Center.
According to WGME, the official forecast track keeps the storm south of Maine on Friday night into Saturday, but said there is potential for rip currents and big swells on the Maine coast.
The storm remained out at sea with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour early on Wednesday, about 100 miles east-northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and 275 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina.
Moving northward at 6 miles per hour, Arthur could be packing hurricane force winds of 85 miles per hour when the outer bands brush the Carolinas on Thursday and Friday before weakening, according to the hurricane center’s forecast maps.
Officials in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, said they would move the town’s Independence Day fireworks show to Saturday. The National Park Service ordered the evacuation by 5 p.m. Wednesday of visitors from the narrow barrier islands of the Cape Lookout National Seashore on North Carolina’s central coast.
In the more populous Cape Hatteras National Seashore to the north, where up to 10,000 visitors crowd North Carolina’s Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, the park service said it would close campgrounds, lighthouses and beaches beginning at noon on Wednesday.