Hurricane Earl path prompts 'hurricane watch' for North Carolina coast

Hurricane Earl path means tropical storm-force winds could hit the North Carolina coastline within the next 48 hours. Forecasters expect the Hurricane Earl path to turn northeast after that.

An August 30 satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Earl, now a powerful Category 4 storm as it barreled toward the US coast after battering tiny islands across the northeastern Caribbean with heavy rain and winds that damaged homes and toppled power lines.

As hurricane Earl moves closer to the US, the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch Tuesday for the area north of Surf City, N.C., to Duck, N.C.

For residents along that part of the Outer Banks, this means that tropical-force winds are possible in 48 hours. As the storm gets closer, the next and final advisory would be a hurricane warning.

“A warning means it’s coming,” says Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “You need to have everything done and be in a safe place, protecting your self and your family.”

In its latest assessment, issued at 5 p.m., the hurricane center nudged the storm’s track a few more miles west, or closer to land.

“It’s going to be perilously close to Hatteras,” says Mr. Feltgen.

The latest analysis also put Cape Fear, N.C., to Surf City under a tropical storm watch. Tropical storm force winds are between 39 miles per hour and 73 m.p.h. Hurricane force winds are above 74 m.p.h and a major hurricane is above 110 m.p.h.

Forecasters still expect the storm to curve north and then northeast. However, Feltgen warns, “Nothing is etched in stone yet.”

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