Posted on 01 Sep 2010
Hurricane Earl made its presence known Wednesday despite being hundreds of miles from the East Coast of the U.S., menacing swimmers with dangerous rip currents and large swells as forecasters expanded a hurricane watch northward from North Carolina into coastal Virginia.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Ocracoke Island, on North Carolina's Outer Banks, and Cape Lookout National Seashore, as well as for visitors to Hatteras Island.
Earl lost some of its punch early Wednesday and was downgraded to a Category 3 storm, with maximum sustained winds near 125 mph (200 kph). However, it was still a major hurricane, and forecasters said more fluctuations in intensity were possible in the next 48 hours. Tracking maps show Earl approaching the North Carolina coast early Friday as a Category 3 storm.
As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, Earl was located about 725 miles (1,170 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said. It was moving northwest at about 17 mph (28 kph).
Forecasters issued a hurricane warning for the area from Bogue Inlet, North Carolina, northeast to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. A tropical storm warning was issued for an area between Cape Fear, North Carolina, and Bogue Inlet, and a hurricane watch stretched from the North Carolina-Virginia line up to Cape Henlopen, Delaware.
"Interests elsewhere from New Jersey to New England should monitor the progress of Earl," forecasters said.