NORFOLK, Va. — Hurricane Arthur has moved back over the Atlantic and is projected to remain offshore this Fourth of July, after making landfall on the southern end of North Carolina's barrier islands yesterday with sustained winds up to 100 mph.
The National Hurricane Center said that little additional change in strength was expected and that the storm would begin weakening Friday night as it moves up the East coast. It is projected to be near or over western Nova Scotia early Saturday.
Early Friday morning, Arthur was located about 40 miles north-northeast of Cape Lookout and about 40 miles west-southwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C. It was moving northeast at 18 mph.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for most of northeastern North Carolina. Tornadoes are possible in the Carolinas and parts of southeastern Virginia through Friday morning. Rainfall of 4 to 6 inches is expected with some areas getting as much as 8 inches in a brief time.
A tropical storm warning is in effect from north of Duck, N.C., to Virginia's Eastern Shore. The warning also includes Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Portsmouth.
Farther up the East Coast Arthur has forced thousands of vacationers to reschedule Independence Day fireworks displays threatened by the storm.
As Arthur approached the Outer Banks as a Category 2 storm on Thursday, the big question was how much beach erosion, downed power lines and wrecked holiday weekends will be left in its wake.
"I plan to sit on the beach as long as the sun is here," then head out for a seafood dinner, said Sean Fitzgerald, 44, of Fairfax, Va., who said he saw no reason to disrupt his family's vacation at Kill Devil Hills, N.C., north of Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks.
"A lot of businesses close down here during the winter. So we do depend on a huge influx of people coming down here for the Fourth of July," said Amory Jones of Kitty Hawk Kites, which offers hang gliding, kiteboarding, parasailing, stand-up paddleboarding and wakeboarding.
A mandatory evacuation of Hatteras Island, the easternmost strip of land in the Outer Banks, began at 5 a.m. ET Thursday, about the time the National Hurricane Center upgraded Tropical Storm Arthur to hurricane status. Now no one is allowed on the island.
"We were just saying we were really, really lucky this year that the weather was so great, and then this," said Nichole Specht, 27, who ended a two-week vacation with her fiance, Ryan Witman, 28. They left Hatteras Island at 3:30 a.m. to beat the traffic.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale categorizes storms based on their sustained wind speed and estimates property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 or higher are considered major storms because of their potential for significant loss of life and property damage.
• Category 1. 74 to 95 mph. Very dangerous winds will produce some damage. Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
• Category 2. 96 to 110 mph. Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage. Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last several days to weeks.
• Category 3. 111 to 129 mph. Devastating damage will occur. Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks afterward.
• Category 4. 130 to 156 mph. Catastrophic damage will occur. Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
• Category 5. 157 mph and higher. Catastrophic damage will occur. A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Source: National Hurricane Center
How some previous hurricanes rate
Hurricanes don't always have to be intense to cause a lot of damage. Here are five of the most damaging ones in the past 25 years.
• Katrina, 2005. Though it reached Category 5 over the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 28, 2005. Katrina made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 3 storm. It was the deadliest hurricane since September 1928, and at $75 billion in estimated damage, it became the most expensive U.S. hurricane.
• Ivan, 2004. Hurricane Ivan was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall Sept. 16, 2004, just west of Gulf Shores, Ala., producing more than 100 tornadoes and heavy rain across the Southeast. Part of it also re-entered the Atlantic, drifted south, became a tropical storm again and hit southwest Louisiana as a tropical depression on Sept. 24. It caused $14.2 billion in U.S. property damage, the third highest on record. In the United States, 25 people died.
• Isabelle, 2003. By the time Isabelle came ashore Sept. 18, 2003, near Drum Inlet along North Carolina's Outer Banks, it had become a tropical storm after reaching Category 5 status in the open ocean. But its storm surges of more than 8 feet made it the worst storm to hit the Chesapeake Bay region since 1933 with 17 deaths and more than $3 billion in damage.
• Floyd, 1999. Though this storm touched land Sept. 16, 1999, near Cape Fear, N.C., as a Category 2 hurricane, it is most remembered for its rainfall: more than 19 inches in Wilmington, N.C., almost 14 inches in Brewster, N.Y. In the U.S., 56 people died; the floods caused as much as $6 billion in damage.
• Andrew, 1992. When Hurricane Andrew made landfall in south Florida on Aug. 24, 1992, it was a Category 4 storm. It crossed the Gulf and hit the central Louisiana coast Aug. 26 as a Category 3 hurricane. Total U.S. damage was $26.5 billion, second highest on record; 26 died in the USA and the Bahamas.
Source: National Hurricane Center