Hurricane Arthur now Category 2, approaching Carolina coast - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Hurricane Arthur now Category 2, approaching Carolina coast

Updated:
The forecast track as of 9 p.m. ET Thursday brings Hurricane Arthur close to the Carolina coast. (Source: NWS) The forecast track as of 9 p.m. ET Thursday brings Hurricane Arthur close to the Carolina coast. (Source: NWS)
A red flag warning in North Myrtle Beach, SC, indicates the proximity of Hurricane Arthur. (Source: Brennan Somers/WMBF) A red flag warning in North Myrtle Beach, SC, indicates the proximity of Hurricane Arthur. (Source: Brennan Somers/WMBF)
This satellite image shows the eye of Hurricane Arthur off the coast of the Carolinas. (Source: NOAA) This satellite image shows the eye of Hurricane Arthur off the coast of the Carolinas. (Source: NOAA)
Ominous clouds from Hurricane Arthur are seen over the beach at Wrightsville, NC. (Source: WECT) Ominous clouds from Hurricane Arthur are seen over the beach at Wrightsville, NC. (Source: WECT)

(RNN) - The National Weather Service has upgraded Hurricane Arthur to a Category 2 storm as it swiftly approaches the Carolina coast Thursday evening. 

The latest forecast from NWS's Hurricane Center states that the eye of the storm is passing southeast of Wilmington, NC with sustained winds of 100 mph. WECT in reports there is a tornado watch for some areas until 2 p.m. Friday, July 4.

The storm has accelerated and is moving at 18 miles per hour toward the northeast.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said the storm had tracked west, bringing it closer to the coast than anticipated.

The storm could be the first hurricane to make landfall on July 4 in U.S. history, according to NWS data collected since the 1850s.

Nearly 7,000 residents are without power as the winds topple trees and power lines. North Carolina's governor declared a state of emergency for 11 coastal counties. 

Arthur formed south of the Carolina coast Thursday morning, the first named hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.

A hurricane warning is currently in effect from Surf City, NC, to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including Pamlico Sound and Eastern Albemarle Sound, according to the NWS. These coastal areas are also advised to beware of storm surges and flood waters.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Little River Inlet to South of Surf City as well as the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, VA, and Western Albemarle Sound, nantucket and Cape Cod from Provincetown to Chatham.

In Wilmington, NC, tourism officials said visitors had been canceling their trips in response to the storm. Connie Nelson, communications director for the Cape Fear Coast Convention &Visitors Bureau, told WECT she was hopeful the celebrations would continue once the storm passed. 

"Our three big holiday weekends during the summer months are very important to the tourism industry," Nelson said. "So July Fourth really kicks things off and we were expecting an epic weekend and hopefully we will still have it, since we're only expecting it to impact one day."

According to the NWS, dangerous swimming conditions will impact many of the East Coast's beaches this week due to rip currents generated by Arthur.

McCrory warned people in advance of the storm and Independence "don't put your stupid hat on." He declared a state of emergency for 25 counties on or near the coast on Wednesday, and a mandatory evacuation was issued for Hatteras Island, NC.

"While the current forecast does not indicate Arthur will cause major damage, we are taking this storm very seriously," Mike Sprayberry, NC emergency manager, said.

Boston, in advance of the storm, moved its Fourth of July celebration and traditional Boston Pops concert to Thursday.

Arthur is expected to become an extra-tropical system near Nova Scotia.

Ready.gov advises there are a few simple things you can do around your home to prevent damage:

  • Cover all of your home's windows, either with storm shutters or 5/8-inch marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape will not prevent your windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame of your home. 
  • Reinforce your garage doors.
  • Anything outside that is not tied down should be brought inside.
  • Unclog or clear all outdoor drains, rain gutters and down spouts. 
  • Secure your home.
You should check your insurance and make sure you have flood coverage. The days before a hurricane is too late, so you should prepare your insurance well ahead of time. Once a year, look over your insurance policies and make sure all of your important documents, such as passports or birth certificates, are in a waterproof container within easy reach of your emergency and evacuation kit.

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