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Arthur threatens July 4th plans along East Coast

  • Nicole Specht, and and Ryan Witman, pack their Honda CRV heading back home to Lancaster Pa., before dawn on Thursday, July 3, 2014, during a mandatory evacuation, in Rodanthe, N.C. Arthur strengthened to a hurricane early Thursday and threatened to give North Carolina a glancing blow on Independence Day, prompting a stream of vacationers and residents to head home from some parts of the state's popular but flood-prone Outer Banks. (AP Photo/Jerome Bailey Jr.)

    Nicole Specht, and and Ryan Witman, pack their Honda CRV heading back home to Lancaster Pa., before dawn on Thursday, July 3, 2014, during a mandatory evacuation, in Rodanthe, N.C. Arthur strengthened to a hurricane early Thursday and threatened to give North Carolina a glancing blow on Independence Day, prompting a stream of vacationers and residents to head home from some parts of the state's popular but flood-prone Outer Banks. (AP Photo/Jerome Bailey Jr.)

  • Eddie Skakle and his wife Gail secure kayaks at their kayak rental business, A. S. Austin Co., in Hatteras Village, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by North Carolina's Hatteras Island Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders.  (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley)   MAGS OUT

    Eddie Skakle and his wife Gail secure kayaks at their kayak rental business, A. S. Austin Co., in Hatteras Village, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by North Carolina's Hatteras Island Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley) MAGS OUT

  • Rebecca Sirkel plays in the surf with her dog Jack as Hurricane Arthur approaches the coast Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Oak Island, N.C. Southeastern North Carolina remains under a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch. Outer rain and wind bands have been moving across the coast since daybreak.  (AP Photo/The Star-News, Ken Blevins)

    Rebecca Sirkel plays in the surf with her dog Jack as Hurricane Arthur approaches the coast Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Oak Island, N.C. Southeastern North Carolina remains under a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch. Outer rain and wind bands have been moving across the coast since daybreak. (AP Photo/The Star-News, Ken Blevins)

  • The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse shines on Hatteras Island, N.C., before dawn on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  The island is under a mandatory evacuation order because of approaching Hurricane Arthur.   (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley)   MAGS OUT

    The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse shines on Hatteras Island, N.C., before dawn on Thursday, July 3, 2014. The island is under a mandatory evacuation order because of approaching Hurricane Arthur. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley) MAGS OUT

  • Peter LeWando puts plywood sheets over the windows of the apartment where he lives over some shops in Avon, N.C. on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Friday morning.  The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)

    Peter LeWando puts plywood sheets over the windows of the apartment where he lives over some shops in Avon, N.C. on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)

  • A car loaded down with bikes, kayaks and surfboards heads north on NC 12 through Buxton on Hatteras Island, N.C., at dawn on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  The island is under a mandatory evacuation order because of approaching Hurricane Arthur.   (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley)   MAGS OUT

    A car loaded down with bikes, kayaks and surfboards heads north on NC 12 through Buxton on Hatteras Island, N.C., at dawn on Thursday, July 3, 2014. The island is under a mandatory evacuation order because of approaching Hurricane Arthur. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley) MAGS OUT

  • A steady stream of traffic, mostly vacationers, heads north on NC 12, the main road on Hatteras Island, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Friday morning, the island is under mandatory evacuation orders.  (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)

    A steady stream of traffic, mostly vacationers, heads north on NC 12, the main road on Hatteras Island, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Friday morning, the island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)

  • Eddie Skakle and his wife Gail secure kayaks at their kayak rental business, A. S. Austin Co., in Hatteras Village, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by North Carolina's Hatteras Island Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders.   (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley)   MAGS OUT

    Eddie Skakle and his wife Gail secure kayaks at their kayak rental business, A. S. Austin Co., in Hatteras Village, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by North Carolina's Hatteras Island Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley) MAGS OUT

  • Kite boarder Pete Nero secures his kite as darks clouds and rain move in on the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)

    Kite boarder Pete Nero secures his kite as darks clouds and rain move in on the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)

  • Clouds and rains move in as beachgoers leave Freeman Park at the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)

    Clouds and rains move in as beachgoers leave Freeman Park at the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)

  • Kite boarder Pete Nero secures his kite as darks clouds and rain move in on the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)

    Kite boarder Pete Nero secures his kite as darks clouds and rain move in on the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)

  • Carol Palmer of King George, Va.  loads a car with her family's belongings as they prepare to leave Hatteras Village, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by North Carolina's Hatteras Island Friday morning.  The island is under mandatory evacuation orders.  (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley)   MAGS OUT

    Carol Palmer of King George, Va. loads a car with her family's belongings as they prepare to leave Hatteras Village, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by North Carolina's Hatteras Island Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley) MAGS OUT

  • This is the Weather Underground U.S. national forecast for Friday, July 4, 2014, Hurricane Arthur will be off the coast of North Carolina, producing showers and thunderstorms from the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast. Showers and thunderstorms will be possible along the Gulf Coast. The Great Lakes and West Coast will be mainly dry. (AP Photo/Weather Underground)

    This is the Weather Underground U.S. national forecast for Friday, July 4, 2014, Hurricane Arthur will be off the coast of North Carolina, producing showers and thunderstorms from the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast. Showers and thunderstorms will be possible along the Gulf Coast. The Great Lakes and West Coast will be mainly dry. (AP Photo/Weather Underground)

  • A sign at the Outer Banks Motor Lodge displays a message in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Island on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    A sign at the Outer Banks Motor Lodge displays a message in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Island on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

  • Tourists enjoy a calm ocean in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Island on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    Tourists enjoy a calm ocean in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Island on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

  • Beach patrol personnel monitor conditions in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by the Outer Banks on Friday morning. Hatteras Island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    Beach patrol personnel monitor conditions in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by the Outer Banks on Friday morning. Hatteras Island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

  • A sign warns travelers as recreational vehicles arrive in Nags Head, N.C., after departing Hatteras Island Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Friday morning.  The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    A sign warns travelers as recreational vehicles arrive in Nags Head, N.C., after departing Hatteras Island Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

  • A lifeguard monitors the beach in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Island on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    A lifeguard monitors the beach in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Island on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

  • A lifeguard patrols the beach in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    A lifeguard patrols the beach in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

  • Vehicles travel across the Thomas Rhodes Bridge as rain falls early Thursday morning, July 3, 2014 in Wilmington, N.C. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, a category one storm. (AP Photo/The Star-News, Ken Blevins)

    Vehicles travel across the Thomas Rhodes Bridge as rain falls early Thursday morning, July 3, 2014 in Wilmington, N.C. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, a category one storm. (AP Photo/The Star-News, Ken Blevins)

  • Clouds and rain move in as a man jogs along the shore of the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)

    Clouds and rain move in as a man jogs along the shore of the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)

  • Nicole Specht, and and Ryan Witman, pack their Honda CRV heading back home to Lancaster Pa., before dawn on Thursday, July 3, 2014, during a mandatory evacuation, in Rodanthe, N.C. Arthur strengthened to a hurricane early Thursday and threatened to give North Carolina a glancing blow on Independence Day, prompting a stream of vacationers and residents to head home from some parts of the state's popular but flood-prone Outer Banks. (AP Photo/Jerome Bailey Jr.)
  • Eddie Skakle and his wife Gail secure kayaks at their kayak rental business, A. S. Austin Co., in Hatteras Village, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by North Carolina's Hatteras Island Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders.  (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley)   MAGS OUT
  • Rebecca Sirkel plays in the surf with her dog Jack as Hurricane Arthur approaches the coast Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Oak Island, N.C. Southeastern North Carolina remains under a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch. Outer rain and wind bands have been moving across the coast since daybreak.  (AP Photo/The Star-News, Ken Blevins)
  • The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse shines on Hatteras Island, N.C., before dawn on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  The island is under a mandatory evacuation order because of approaching Hurricane Arthur.   (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley)   MAGS OUT
  • Peter LeWando puts plywood sheets over the windows of the apartment where he lives over some shops in Avon, N.C. on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Friday morning.  The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)
  • A car loaded down with bikes, kayaks and surfboards heads north on NC 12 through Buxton on Hatteras Island, N.C., at dawn on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  The island is under a mandatory evacuation order because of approaching Hurricane Arthur.   (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley)   MAGS OUT
  • A steady stream of traffic, mostly vacationers, heads north on NC 12, the main road on Hatteras Island, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Friday morning, the island is under mandatory evacuation orders.  (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)
  • Eddie Skakle and his wife Gail secure kayaks at their kayak rental business, A. S. Austin Co., in Hatteras Village, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by North Carolina's Hatteras Island Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders.   (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley)   MAGS OUT
  • Kite boarder Pete Nero secures his kite as darks clouds and rain move in on the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)
  • Clouds and rains move in as beachgoers leave Freeman Park at the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)
  • Kite boarder Pete Nero secures his kite as darks clouds and rain move in on the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)
  • Carol Palmer of King George, Va.  loads a car with her family's belongings as they prepare to leave Hatteras Village, N.C., on Thursday, July 3, 2014.  Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by North Carolina's Hatteras Island Friday morning.  The island is under mandatory evacuation orders.  (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot,Steve Earley)   MAGS OUT
  • This is the Weather Underground U.S. national forecast for Friday, July 4, 2014, Hurricane Arthur will be off the coast of North Carolina, producing showers and thunderstorms from the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast. Showers and thunderstorms will be possible along the Gulf Coast. The Great Lakes and West Coast will be mainly dry. (AP Photo/Weather Underground)
  • A sign at the Outer Banks Motor Lodge displays a message in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Island on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
  • Tourists enjoy a calm ocean in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Island on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
  • Beach patrol personnel monitor conditions in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by the Outer Banks on Friday morning. Hatteras Island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
  • A sign warns travelers as recreational vehicles arrive in Nags Head, N.C., after departing Hatteras Island Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Friday morning.  The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
  • A lifeguard monitors the beach in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras Island on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
  • A lifeguard patrols the beach in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Hurricane Arthur is forecast to pass by Hatteras on Friday morning. The island is under mandatory evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
  • Vehicles travel across the Thomas Rhodes Bridge as rain falls early Thursday morning, July 3, 2014 in Wilmington, N.C. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, a category one storm. (AP Photo/The Star-News, Ken Blevins)
  • Clouds and rain move in as a man jogs along the shore of the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer)

A strengthening Hurricane Arthur forced thousands of vacationers on the North Carolina coast to abandon their Independence Day plans while cities farther up the East Coast rescheduled fireworks displays threatened by rain from the storm.

After passing over or near North Carolina early today, Hurricane Arthur is expected to weaken as it travels northward and slings rain along the East Coast. The annual Boston Pops Fourth of July concert and fireworks show was rescheduled for last night because of potential heavy rain from Arthur, while fireworks displays in New Jersey and Maine were postponed until later in the weekend.

“We don’t know for sure if the exact center of Arthur is going to pass over land or not,” said Rick Knabb, the director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. “The chances have been increasing for that to occur with the last couple of forecasts. But even if the exact center doesn’t go over you, you will experience impacts tonight. The weather is going downhill in North Carolina, even as we speak.”

The islands off North Carolina’s coast are susceptible to high winds, rough seas and road-clogging sands, prompting an exodus that began Wednesday night.

Among the tourists leaving Hatteras Island were 27-year-old Nichole Specht and 28-year-old Ryan Witman of Lancaster, Pa. The couple started driving at 3:30 a.m. yesterday on North Carolina Highway 12, the only road on and off Hatteras.

“We were just saying we were really, really lucky this year that the weather was so great, and then this,” Specht said as she ended a two-week vacation.

Many island residents, meanwhile, decided to ride out the powerful storm rather than risk losing access to homes connected to the mainland by a highway prone to washouts.

“All the people that I know who live here are staying put,” said Mike Rabe, who planned to stay in his Rodanthe home despite an evacuation order for surrounding Hatteras Island.

The departures of vacationers left things “pretty dead” on Hatteras Island during the normally bustling run-up to the Independence Day weekend, Rabe said. He spent yesterday running errands and helping neighbors prepare their homes for the storm.

Arthur, the first named storm of the Atlantic season, prompted a hurricane warning for much of the North Carolina coast. Tropical storm warnings were in effect for coastal areas in South Carolina and Virginia and as far north as Cape Cod. On the Outer Banks’s Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry, a voluntary evacuation was under way. Officials said ferry service would end at 5 p.m.

Among those leaving the island was the Unmussig family of Midlothian, Va. They cut their vacation two days short when they left yesterday morning in an SUV towing a trailer filled with bicycles and kayaks.

“Our cottage was right on the sound and we didn’t want that back-current surge coming in and flooding us out,” said Donald Unmussig, 50.

“I just didn’t want to risk getting caught there. I have to work Monday morning. I didn’t want to be late,” he added. “We just decided to cut the losses and go home and not have to deal with the problems.”

On the Massachusetts island of Nantucket, no evacuations were planned, but residents who have lived through many a fierce storm said they know better than to totally relax.

“I think that for the most part it’s another storm, but you never know what can happen,” said Rocky Fox, who owns the Chicken Box nightclub on Nantucket. “Being the Fourth of July weekend, things seem to be magnified.”

Fox said Nantucket residents are used to being prepared. “Mother Nature was upset with us this winter, and she may not be through. We’re on an island. You can never tell what it’s going to do. You prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Last night, Arthur was centered about 35 miles east of Cape Fear, N.C., and 140 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras and moving north about 15 mph with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.

If Arthur makes landfall in the U.S. today, it would be the first hurricane to do so on July Fourth, according to National Hurricane Center research that goes back to the 1850s.

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