Hurricane-hardened North Carolinians mostly shrugged off a Category 2 hurricane named Arthur Thursday night, taking only a marginal hit before the fast-moving storm veered out into the Atlantic on its way toward a possible sideswipe of Massachusetts' Cape Cod.
Arthur made landfall near Beaufort, N.C., late Thursday evening, breaking tree limbs and causing power outages. But thanks to well-staged utility crews, most affected areas had lights again by dawn. NC 12, the perpetually hurricane-wrecked roadway that connects the Outer Banks, took little to no damage.
The storm’s inner wall had tightened through the day Thursday as it approached Cape Hatteras, meaning that winds around the eye had begun to increase in speed, with gusts of up to 120 miles per hour. Friday morning, Arthur’s atmospheric pressure stood at about 976 millibars, and it had maximum sustained winds of 90 m.p.h., all while moving north at a 23 m.p.h. clip.
Hurricane watches remained in effect up the East Coast, from the Albemarle Sound to Nantucket, Mass. According to the National Hurricane Center’s storm track models, the hurricane’s easternmost side may glance Cape Cod at 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
As the storm approached North Carolina, thousands of tourists and locals had fled the sand spits of the Outer Banks. Those who stayed reported a rough night, although one North Carolinian interviewed by CNN, Robin Nelson, said her husband seemed unperturbed. “He’s very good at sleeping through hurricanes,” she told the cable news network.
Arthur is the first named hurricane of the 2014 season. The US hasn’t seen a major hurricane strike since hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast in 2012. (Forecasters had predicted a sluggish 2012 season, but it turned out to be notably active, ending with the Sandy exclamation point.) Last year’s hurricane season, predicted to have been a busy one, was instead a bust, producing only a few hard blows and no major landfall hurricanes – the first time that’s happened since 1994.
Forecasters expect an average hurricane year in 2014, with anywhere from one to six hurricanes coming ashore, and perhaps one particularly powerful storm. Strong tradewinds and slightly higher-than-usual water temperatures in the Caribbean and tropical North Atlantic – factors that help to spawn hurricanes – are likely to be mitigated by slighly cooler-than-normal water temperatures in the eastern Atlantic.
To be sure, some parts of North Carolina did feel the brunt of the storm. Downtown Manteo, N.C., is flooded, and a total of 60,000 or so power outages were reported in the coastal region.
Arthur's back-rotation continued on Friday to push water up on the Outer Banks from the inshore sounds, but the peak storm surge reached a manageable four feet in some spots.
As of 9 a.m., there were no confirmed reports of injuries from the storm.
Now, those who battled the storm will see their reward: Several days of cool, clear, post-hurricane air, a brief respite from the usually hot and muggy summer weather.