4 July 2014
Last updated at 04:48
Hurricane Arthur, packing winds of 100mph, has made landfall in the US state of North Carolina, as thousands abandon their 4 July holiday plans.
The first hurricane of the season, now a Category 2 storm, reached land between Cape Lookout and Beaufort at 23:15 local time (03:15 Friday GMT), the US National Hurricane Center said.
Thousands left the area, made up of barrier islands known as Outer Banks.
Ferries and highways were packed as people left.
Towns all along the state’s coast have rescheduled Independence Day events and fireworks.
A mandatory evacuation of Hatteras Island, the easternmost strip of land in the Outer Banks, began early on Thursday, when Tropical Storm Arthur was upgraded to hurricane status.
It was made a Category 2 hurricane late the same day, which means winds reached 96mph.
After passing North Carolina, Arthur was expected to weaken as it travels north along the East Coast.
Austin Parker surfs Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
An exodus of Hatteras Island followed calls for evacuation
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.”
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.”
The hurricane warning did not put off beach lovers at Nags Head, N Carolina
The hurricane warnings lined the highways
The storm has bypassed the Georgia coast but brought larger waves to the southern state
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.