Published: 2014-07-02 16:03:00
Updated: 2014-07-03 09:57:54
Posted July 2, 2014
Updated July 3, 2014
Tropical Storm Arthur strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane early Thursday. At 8 a.m., the storm had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph and was centered 274 miles south of Raleigh.
"We're waiting on it to make that eastward turn, which it hasn't done yet," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "If it doesn't make that eastward turn, there could be more parts of the coast of North Carolina that are in trouble."
The latest forecast has the center of the storm brushing by Wilmington before glancing off the coast or possibly making landfall between Morehead City and Cape Hatteras around 2 a.m. Friday. That path will change if a cold front from the west pushes the storm track farther east.
By 2 p.m. Friday, the storm will have moved far from land, off the New Jersey coast.
Hurricane Arthur is expected to remain a Category 1 as it moves up the coast, bringing up to 6 inches of rain, 35 to 45 mph winds and gusts up to 80 mph.
"The bottom line is the storm is approaching today. It's going to be quick, fortunately. (The) effects will be felt for less than 24 hours," Gardner said.
Outer rain bands from Arthur were already hitting Wrightsville Beach by daybreak Thursday.
The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane warning for Brunswick, Carteret, Currituck, Onslow, Dare, Craven, Pamlico and Hyde counties along the North Carolina coast. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Little River inlet northward to the Virginia border. A tropical storm watch is in effect south of Little River Inlet to the South Santee River in South Carolina.
Carteret and Hyde counties each issued a state of emergency Wednesday night ahead of the storm. A voluntary evacuation is also in place for Ocracoke Island.
The state Department of Transportation has scheduled additional ferry departures from the island for Thursday morning and early afternoon to help with the evacuation. In addition, tolls at Cedar Island and Swan Quarter have been waved for motorists leaving Ocracoke Island through those routes.
A mandatory evacuation order was issued Wednesday for residents and visitors of Hatteras Island. No one will be allowed to access the island after 5 a.m. Thursday.
Gov. Pat McCrory will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to update residents on the latest preparations for the storm. Watch the news conference live on WRAL-TV, WILM-TV and WRAL.com.
Arthur's rain began dousing parts of the coast Thursday morning. WRAL anchor Lynda Loveland is at Wrightsville Beach and said the conditions changed drastically.
"It was sunny and beautiful. We were walking down the beach. Well, Arthur has come in," Loveland said. "We’re now getting wind and rain, strong gusts of wind actually. You’re starting to feel the sand even kind of pelting you a little bit, too. So, conditions have deteriorated pretty rapidly out here."
Storm surge could climb to 2 to 4 feet in some places, and rip currents could be dangerous. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane, according to FEMA. It poses a significant threat for drowning and can occur before, during or after the center of a storm passes through an area.
One of the biggest threats for Wilmington-area beaches is going to be rip currents. The threat for bigger surf and stronger winds may be along the Outer Banks beaches. There could be more sound-side flooding than ocean-side.
WRAL photojournalist Chad Flowers captured this photo of outer rain bands from Hurricane Arthur at Wrightsville Beach on Thursday.
The Triangle has about a 65 percent chance of thunderstorms on Thursday afternoon if a cold front mixes with the tropical system. About 1 to 1.5 inches of rain could fall. Otherwise, the Triangle and nearby areas shouldn't be affected very much.
"By Friday at noon, (Arthur) is pulling away rapidly. Most of the state is covered in sunshine. It may still be a little breezy, but it will certainly be very nice," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. "Here in the Triangle area, we really don’t have anything to worry about at all. But the coast, we’ll certainly keep our eyes peeled."
Some coastal towns have already made changes to Fourth of July plans. Atlantic Beach officials said the town's annual fireworks show will take place July 5 at 9 p.m. to avoid the storm. Fireworks in Morehead City will also be delayed to July 5 at 9 p.m.
Some state parks in coastal North Carolina will close and access to other parks and facilities could be interrupted on short notice as the storm moves north along the coast, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
Hammocks Beach and Carolina Beach state parks and Fort Fisher State Recreation Area will be affected Thursday. At Hammocks Beach, ferry service to Bear Island will be suspended Thursday, and camping will not be allowed. Carolina Beach State Park will close at 5 p.m. Thursday, and its campground will be evacuated.
Visitors with reservations can apply for refunds through the reservations provider Active Network.
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area will likely restrict swimming and close the four-wheel drive beach. Fort Macon and Jockey’s Ridge state parks could be closed later this week if storm track predictions are accurate.
The North Carolina Attorney General's Office says landlords are required under state law to provide a written agreement that spells out the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. That usually includes information about cancellation policies and travel insurance.
If you’re ordered to leave as part of a mandatory evacuation, the Attorney General's Office, says, and you were not given a chance to purchase insurance, the landlord is required to refund your money for each night you can’t stay at the rental property.
If you are offered that insurance and choose not to buy it, the landlord does not have to refund your money – even if there is a mandatory evacuation.
The same goes if you miss out on a couple of days, are unhappy that a walkway or pool is no longer usable or just decide that you don't want to go because of damage nearby.
Without rental insurance, don't expect compensation.
Many landlords are willing to work with tenants by either giving them credit for a future stay or switching dates, but you should check in advance.
The names are from lists that get recycled every six years, unless a storm is particularly deadly or damaging, in which case the name is retired and replaced. The actual names are a blend of names from English, French, and Spanish – languages from the cultures represented by the areas affected by Atlantic storms – and often have pronunciations that differ significantly from what their English spelling would suggest.
Tropical Storm Arthur
Coastal webcams offer a live look at conditions as Arthur approaches.
Track the storm with WRAL's interactive hurricane tracker.
Make sure your holiday rental includes insurance.
Thursday at 1 p.m.: CHAT LIVE with WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner
If more names are needed, storms will be named using letters from the Greek alphabet. After Wilfred, the next storm would be named "Alpha", then "Beta", and so on.
Hurricanes are categorized by their wind speeds on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale: