With potential hurricane on way, N.C. governor warns public: ‘Don’t put your stupid hat on’

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(CNN) — Arthur is causing holiday havoc.

The tropical storm churning up the East Coast might be at its most dangerous Thursday as it skirts the North Carolina coast.

Late Wednesday, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for Hatteras Island and a voluntary evacuation order went out to Ocracoke Island.

The weather system is causing problems farther north, too. Officials said Wednesday afternoon that the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, normally held on July 4, will be moved to Thursday because of the potential for bad weather.

Arthur is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane off the North Carolina coast on Thursday, and although the eye might not hit land, the storm could create dangerous rip currents that day along the Outer Banks and Pamlico Sound, forecasters said.

At 8 p.m. Wednesday, it was still classified as a tropical storm with 70 mph winds, just below hurricane strength.

North Carolina’s governor issued a tropical storm warning for the entire coast and sent this message to those who plan to hit the beaches: Stay out of the ocean.

“I don’t want you to put at risk not only yourself but also people who may try to help you, especially our emergency operation workers,” said Gov. Pat McCrory.

“Don’t put your stupid hat on,” McCrory said at the New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center, according to CNN affiliate WWAY.

Late Wednesday, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for Hatteras Island and a voluntary evacuation order went out to Ocracoke Island.

Some vacationers at Southern Shores, North Carolina, said they weren’t too worried.

“We’ve been coming down here for 20 years,” said Jim Stafford of Greenville, Pennsylvania, as he stood in front of the beachfront house where he’s staying. “We’ll just see what happens.”

When asked whether he was taking any precautions, Stafford said he planned to fill up the gas tank on his car “just in case.”

Arthur should hit hurricane strength just off the southern Outer Banks on Thursday, with sustained winds above 73 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Track the storm

Strong winds could push water to the point where the underwater sandbars in front of North Carolina’s beaches break, creating rip currents that would rush swimmers out to sea, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

“There’s no time for you to react. That’s why you can’t be there at all,” Myers said, describing a danger area from Wilmington north to Nags Head.

“This is not a landfall-problem hurricane. This is a rip-current-problem hurricane,” he added.

As for Independence Day, the storm could send rain to the Washington area during the day, but it shouldn’t spoil most of Friday night’s festivities as it veers away from land.

Storm clouds on Arthur’s coattails might throw rain on Washington’s parade about noon Friday.

But after sundown, Washington’s skies should be mostly clear. Much of the East Coast could share in the good conditions late Friday.

Arthur looks like it will spare Friday night’s colossal fireworks show on Washington’s National Mall, weather forecasters say, as the storm is expected to move quickly out of range.

PBS is planning to broadcast the pyrotechnics blossoming over the Reflecting Pool live via 20 cameras.


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