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Ahead of July 4th, East Coast eyes tropical storm

  • This NOAA satellite image taken Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 01:45 a.m. EDT, shows showers and thunderstorms from the western Northeast through the Ohio and Tennessee Valley and into the Central-Southern Mississippi River Valley along a slow moving cold front. Tropical Storm Arthur is off the eastern coast of Florida over the northern Bahamas bringing showers and thunderstorms to the area.(AP Photo/Weather Underground)

    This NOAA satellite image taken Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 01:45 a.m. EDT, shows showers and thunderstorms from the western Northeast through the Ohio and Tennessee Valley and into the Central-Southern Mississippi River Valley along a slow moving cold front. Tropical Storm Arthur is off the eastern coast of Florida over the northern Bahamas bringing showers and thunderstorms to the area.(AP Photo/Weather Underground)

  • 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)

    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)

  • Craig Campbell, left, and Josh Trevino, second from left, react  as the United States misses a chance to score in a World Cup soccer match between the U.S. and Belgium, Tuesday, July 1, 2014, in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack)

    Craig Campbell, left, and Josh Trevino, second from left, react as the United States misses a chance to score in a World Cup soccer match between the U.S. and Belgium, Tuesday, July 1, 2014, in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack)

  • Nick Alvarez, of New York, enjoys a day at the beach in Miami Beach, Fla., Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

    Nick Alvarez, of New York, enjoys a day at the beach in Miami Beach, Fla., Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

  • Stefano Campodonico, of Miami, body boards a small wave in Miami Beach, Fla., Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

    Stefano Campodonico, of Miami, body boards a small wave in Miami Beach, Fla., Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

  • A medium hazard flag warns beachgoers to be cautious of moderate surf and currents in Miami, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

    A medium hazard flag warns beachgoers to be cautious of moderate surf and currents in Miami, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

  • A medium hazard flag warns beachgoers to be cautious of moderate surf and currents, in Miami, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

    A medium hazard flag warns beachgoers to be cautious of moderate surf and currents, in Miami, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

  • 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)

    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)

  • This NOAA satellite image taken Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 01:45 a.m. EDT, shows showers and thunderstorms from the western Northeast through the Ohio and Tennessee Valley and into the Central-Southern Mississippi River Valley along a slow moving cold front. Tropical Storm Arthur is off the eastern coast of Florida over the northern Bahamas bringing showers and thunderstorms to the area.(AP Photo/Weather Underground)
  • 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)
  • Craig Campbell, left, and Josh Trevino, second from left, react  as the United States misses a chance to score in a World Cup soccer match between the U.S. and Belgium, Tuesday, July 1, 2014, in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack)
  • Nick Alvarez, of New York, enjoys a day at the beach in Miami Beach, Fla., Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
  • Stefano Campodonico, of Miami, body boards a small wave in Miami Beach, Fla., Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
  • A medium hazard flag warns beachgoers to be cautious of moderate surf and currents in Miami, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
  • A medium hazard flag warns beachgoers to be cautious of moderate surf and currents, in Miami, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
  • 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)

As one of the year’s busiest travel weekends approaches, so does another visitor: Tropical Storm Arthur, expected to grow into a hurricane by the Fourth of July and hit most harshly at North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a popular getaway spot of thin barrier islands along the shore.

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season prompted a hurricane warning for a wide swath of the North Carolina coast and had officials, hotel owners and would-be vacationers as far north as New England carefully watching forecasts.

The Outer Banks will be especially vulnerable, forecasters said. The area’s tourism agency expects about 250,000 people to travel there and stay in hotels and rental homes for the long holiday weekend.

“We want everybody to be safe and prepared, but we are not overly concerned at this point,” said Lee Nettles, the executive director the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. He noted that forecasters were predicting the storm would move fast and be less severe than others in locals’ memories.

But flooding concerns remained: Twice in recent years, storm-driven waves have sliced North Carolina Route 12, the main road along the islands, rendering it impassable. On Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry, a voluntary evacuation was announced.

Stores saw runs on generators, lanterns and flashlights, but even some workers weren’t yet concerned.

“I’ve been through Irene. I went through Isabelle,” said Bill Motley, who works at Ace Hardware in Nags Head has lived on the Outer Banks for 13 years. “I’m not even worried about this one. 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.”

At a news conference, Gov. Pat McCrory advised residents, “Don’t put your stupid hat on.” With concerns of rip tides, he urged surfers and swimmers not to get in the water regardless of how good the waves might be.

“Our major goal is to ensure that no lives are lost during this upcoming storm,” including those of emergency workers, McCrory said. He declared a state of emergency for 25 coastal and adjoining counties.

Nancy Janitz, 60, of Jacksonville, N.C., said she was ready, thanks to technology.

“I have my NOAA radio, and I keep tabs on Twitter and Facebook for updates,” she said. “I’m as prepared as I can possibly be.”

Yesterday afternoon, Arthur was about 220 miles south of Charleston and moving north about 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. The National Hurricane Center predicted it would grow to a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of at least 74 mph either late yesterday or sometime today.

The forecast did not call for a landfall in the U.S., but officials and travelers north to New England kept an eye on the storm’s projected path. Many areas warned of upcoming rain, wind and potential rip tides.

The worst of the storm should occur at Cape Hatteras, N.C., about dawn tomorrow, with 3 to 5 inches of rain and sustained winds up to 85 mph, said Tony Saavedra, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. But forecasters said that by later tomorrow, the effects of Arthur would be past the Outer Banks, with the rest of the weekend salvaged.

The Hurricane Center predicted the storm would be off the coast of New England later in the day and eventually make landfall in Canada’s maritime provinces as a tropical storm.

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

Farther south, in Hilton Head Island on the state’s southern tip, most were confident would pass well out at sea.

“It will be a sold-out weekend,” said Charlie Clark, a spokeswoman for the local Chamber of Commerce. “We’re not getting calls from visitors asking what’s up with this storm.”

Back on North Carolina’s storm-tested Hatteras Island, one longtime resident said she had stocked up on supplies but was otherwise unfazed by Arthur’s approach.

Even though Dawn Taylor had to put coolers on the top floor of her home in Avon to catch the rain after Hurricane Irene damaged the roof in 2011, she won’t leave her home because of a hurricane. And certainly not this one. Even her 85-year-old father is staying put with her.

And her advice to less experienced tourists? Think twice before riding things out on the island.

“It’s not their environment. They’re not used to it,” she said. “It’s a whole different world out here, a whole different lifestyle.”

Legacy Comments2

"The forecast did not call for a landfall in the U.S., but" ..it did

Imagine that not 1 sentence about how man may have caused this because man may have added about 3.4% of the increase in CO2 (from 300 parts per MILLION to 400 parts per MILLION since the industrial revolution) and the alarmists believe it has caused havoc on the entire earths climate. Shocking I say - shocking

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