(Adds quotes, evacuation ordered on Hatteras Island, updates
By Colleen Jenkins and Gene Cherry
July 2 Tropical Storm Arthur threatened to douse
some July 4 holiday plans on the U.S. East Coast as officials
ordered evacuations of some low-lying coastal areas, closed
beaches and tourist sites and delayed fireworks shows in
anticipation of heavy rain and fierce winds.
The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season (link.reuters.com/baw32w)
was close to reaching hurricane strength, forecasters said on
Wednesday, leaving some businesses worried about taking a
Authorities began closing campgrounds, lighthouses and
beaches at noon (1600 GMT) on Wednesday on the Outer Banks of
North Carolina, where up to 200,000 visitors crowd the Hatteras
and Ocracoke islands.
A mandatory evacuation order for Hatteras Island forced some
to change vacation plans.
Dave Dawson, owner of the Cape Hatteras Motel said he was
completely booked for the holiday but planned to close. "We are
calling people right now apprising them of the situation so they
can make other plans," he said.
Despite the evacuation order, not all residents of the
50-mile-long (80-km) island said they were leaving. The island
is served by only one highway, which is prone to flooding and
closure because of sand washed in by the ocean.
"It will be impossible for us to return back to our house,"
said retired teacher Elizabeth Mullen, who plans to ride out the
storm with her husband in Salvo, midway on the island.
"We have only left for two storms in the 41 years we have
lived here," she added, noting she had stayed through at least a
dozen previous storms.
There are currently 35,000 people on Hatteras Island, Dare
County spokeswoman Dorothy Killingsworth estimated on Wednesday.
A hurricane warning was in effect along North Carolina's
coast, while part of the South Carolina shore was under a
tropical storm warning, the National Hurricane Center said.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of
emergency on Wednesday for 25 eastern counties to help prepare
for possible damage.
COULD BE HURRICANE SOON
Arthur was expected to become a hurricane on Wednesday night
or Thursday as it passes well east of Florida's northeast coast,
the NHC said. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when top
sustained winds reach 74 mph (119 kph).
The storm remained out at sea with maximum sustained winds
of 70 mph (113 kph) on Wednesday, about 180 miles (290 km)
south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, the Miami-based
weather forecasters said on Wednesday night.
Arthur could be packing Category 1 hurricane-force winds of
85 mph (135 kph) when the outer bands brush the Carolinas on
Thursday and Friday before weakening, according to forecasters.
The storm could produce dangerous rip currents along the
coasts of several Southern states, forecasters said, dumping up
to 2 inches (5 cm) of rain across the Carolinas and causing
flooding from storm surge.
Concerns about the storm caused authorities in Boston to
move a nationally televised concert by the Boston Pops and a
fireworks display, which draw hundreds of thousands of
spectators to the city's riverfront, up by a day to Thursday.
Several towns and villages on North Carolina's Outer Banks
and coast rescheduled Independence Day festivities and fireworks
plans as the storm picked up speed moving north at 7 mph (11
Farther up the coast, the resort town of Ocean City,
Maryland, said it was moving its July 4 fireworks display to
Saturday because of the storm.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North Carolina,
and Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Additional reporting
by David Adams in Miami, Harriet McLeod in Charleston and Scott
Malone in Boston; Editing by Susan Heavey, Eric Beech and Peter