Hurricane Earl stronger, could cause problems on Outer Banks

Posted August 29, 2010 11:13 a.m. EDT
Updated August 30, 2010 8:15 a.m. EDT

— Forecasters say Earl has strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane and could pose a threat to the Outer Banks by late Thursday or early Friday.

"It looks like we could have some impact along our coastline," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner. "We could have a good bit of erosion."

Earl's sustained winds are at 110 mph. Warnings were out Sunday night and Monday morning for several islands in the eastern Caribbean. A watch was issued for Puerto Rico.

The National Hurricane Center says Earl's center is headed to the Leeward Islands and will be near the British Virgin Islands by late Monday.

Earl could bring battering waves and a storm surge of up to 3 feet above normal tide levels in some areas, according to forecasters. Heavy rains could cause flash floods and mudslides. Forecasters said Earl had several bands of thunderstorms wrapped around its center.

Warm ocean temperatures of 86 degrees are helping to fuel the storm.

Forecasters said there is a chance the hurricane could brush the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region toward the end of the week, with its closest approach to North Carolina on Thursday night or early Friday.

In any case, the U.S. East Coast is likely to see pounding surf.

"Being that it is such a large storm, anymore movement closer to North Carolina, even if the center of circulation stays off shore, we are still going to be impacted by some of the outer rain bands, especially along the Outer Banks," Meteorologist Kim Deaner said.

As Earl approaches the U.S. Caribbean territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it stands ready to help.

“We continue to monitor the storm and stay in close contact with commonwealth and territorial emergency management officials in the region to ensure they have the resources to respond if needed,” FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said.