— KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) — Hurricane Arthur began moving offshore and away from North Carolina's Outer Banks early Friday after slashing into the state's barrier islands overnight.
Arthur strengthened to a Category 2 storm with winds of 100 mph Thursday evening before passing over the southern end of the Outer Banks — a 200-mile string of narrow barrier islands with about 57,000 permanent residents. The islands are susceptible to high winds, rough seas and road-clogging sands, prompting an exodus that began Wednesday night.
The storm was moving northeast Friday morning after turning slightly west late Thursday, which increased the threat to mainland communities from flooding, tornadoes and intense winds.
"We're most concerned about flooding inland and also storm surges in our sounds and our rivers further inland," North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said. An evaluation of storm damage would have to wait until after the sun rose Friday, McCrory said.
Up to more than 22,000 were without power across the Carolinas early Friday, according to Duke Energy's website.
Before the storm hit, tourism officials had expected 250,000 people to travel to the Outer Banks for the holiday weekend.
After passing over North Carolina early Friday, Hurricane Arthur was expected to weaken as it traveled northward and dump rain along the East Coast. The annual Boston Pops Fourth of July concert and fireworks show were held Thursday night just before of a heavy downpour from Arthur, while fireworks displays in New Jersey and Maine were postponed until later in the weekend.
As of 5 a.m. EDT Friday, Arthur was centered about 20 miles east of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and 85 miles southeast of Norfolk, Virginia. It was moving northeast near 23 mph.
Liz Browning Fox, her 84-year-old mother, her dog and 27 homing pigeons were staying home rather than evacuating their home in Buxton, one of seven villages on low-lying Hatteras Island where officials ordered evacuations ahead of the storm. She, her neighbors and officials worried Arthur could bury the only road off the island in sand or salt water, or slice it with a new channel linking the ocean and sound as happened twice in recent years.