Ben McNeely from Charlotte, North Carolina, was riding the storm out in the community of Manteo.
"We're in the middle of the island," McNeely said. "Surf's up, waves are up ... We're fully surrounded by water."
"In multiple locations, waves have crashed over the tops of the dunes and are now flooding several portions of the main state highway on both the north and south sides through the Outer Banks. This is all happening south of the area called the Oregon Inlet," said one observer from the community of Waves. "The water is six to eight inches deep and seems to be getting deeper by the minute."
A hurricane warning is in effect for Cape Lookout, North Carolina, northeastward toward the North Carolina/Virginia border. A warning was also issued for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and the surrounding area.
At 5 a.m. ET, the center of Earl was about 85 miles (135 kilometers) east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 465 miles (750 kilometers) south-southwest of Nantucket, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was heading north-northeast at about 18 mph (30 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 kph).
Tropical storm force winds are already occurring along the North Carolina coast and hurricane conditions are expected in the region over the next few hours, according to the 5 a.m. hurricane advisory.
"An increase in forward speed and a turn toward the northeast are expected in the next 24 to 36 hours," the center said. "On the forecast track ... the center of Earl will move away from the North Carolina Outer Banks today ... and will approach southeastern New England tonight."
Officials in Dare County, North Carolina, issued mandatory evacuation orders ahead of the storm for visitors to the coastal county, including the Outer Banks. The mandatory evacuation extended to residents in some areas, including the town of South Nags Head and Hatteras Island. Dare County schools and courts will be closed Friday.
On Thursday night, Dare County Manager Bobby Outten said "evacuations went well."
"We got everybody off Hatteras," he said, referring to one coastal island. In other nearby areas, Outten said, "I'm sure there are people holding out."
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Last Updated (Tuesday, 07 September 2010 18:10)
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