3 July 2014
Last updated at 19:08
International Space Station crew members photographed Hurricane Arthur from space
US meteorologists have upgraded Tropical Storm Arthur to a hurricane as it churns off the North Carolina coast on the eve of Independence Day.
The first hurricane of the season was 70 miles (115km) south of Cape Fear as of 14:00 local time, the US National Hurricane Center said.
It is not expected to make landfall but may whip beaches in the state.
North Carolina’s governor has warned holidaymakers not to take risks along the coast on Friday.
With a hurricane warning in place, Governor Pat McCrory said, “Don’t put your stupid hat on.”
Some were still out on Outer Banks beaches as rain moved in on Thursday morning…
… but this camping site on the islands had shut down
Some visitors packed up and returned home ahead of the long-holiday weekend as the storm threatened popular Hatteras Island
Other states are bracing for Arthur too. These crew members of the restored whaling ship Charles W Morgan were securing sails and lines in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on Wednesday
Arthur was packing maximum sustained winds of 90mph (150km/h), which were expected to grow in strength over the coming day, according to the hurricane centre.
It is expected to reach the Outer Banks islands along the North Carolina coast on Thursday night.
On Thursday morning, ferries and highways were packed as visitors and residents left the barrier islands.
“Right now it is beautiful, but it is going to deteriorate around 17:00 or 18:00 this afternoon,” Dare County Commissioner Allen Burrus told Reuters news agency.
A road linking the islands has been sliced apart twice in recent years by storms.
While the most dangerous winds were not expected to hit land, forecasters were predicting a storm surge of up to four feet (1.2m) in the area.
The storm has bypassed the Georgia coast but brought larger waves to the southern state
Visitors to Hatteras Island have been advised to leave and a voluntary evacuation has been announced for Ocracoke Island, which is accessible only by ferry.
“Although the current forecast doesn’t indicate this will be a major impact, we are taking it very seriously,” Mr McCrory said. “I don’t want you to put at risk not only yourself but also people who may try to help you.”
Towns along the coast in North Carolina and elsewhere have rescheduled Independence Day events and fireworks because of the storm.
National Hurricane Center forecaster Stacy Stewart said those who remained behind in the Outer Banks should prepare for the possibility of being stuck for several days without food or electricity.
“We want the public to take this system very seriously, go ahead and start their preparations because time is beginning to run out,” he said.
Forecasters said the storm would move offshore toward the north-east on Friday but would weaken and pose no serious risk to the northern part of the US east coast.
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