WASHINGTON (AP/WJLA) - Forecasters said the odds were increasing that Hurricane Arthur would actually make landfall on Independence Day. But they added even if it doesn't happen, coastal North Carolina was going to feel the impact overnight and into Friday.
Arthur was strengthening in the Atlantic and was expected to speed up to a Category 2 storm when it passes over or near the Outer Banks early Friday -- bringing rain, heavy winds, storm surge and dangerous rip currents. Category 2 hurricanes pack winds of more than 96 mph.
Thousands of residents and visitors on parts of the Outer Banks - a 200-mile string of narrow barrier islands with about 57,000 permanent residents - were under evacuation orders.
Late Thursday afternoon, the storm was a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 90 mph (150 kph). Its center was located about 185 miles (300 km) southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Hurricane warnings on North Carolina's coast stretched from Surf City to the Virginia border. A hurricane watch was in effect for other parts of the state.
A tropical storm warning covered parts of South Carolina and Virginia, as well as Nantucket Island and parts of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
Arthur-related worries also prompted some East Coast cities to reschedule or delay fireworks and other July Fourth festivities and to warn of dangerous rip tides.
The annual Boston Pops Fourth of July concert and fireworks show was moved up a day to Thursday night because of potential heavy rain ahead of Hurricane Arthur.
Ocean City, Md., changes fireworks date as storm approaches
In Ocean City, Md. officials decided to postpone Friday night's scheduled fireworks and move it to Saturday night.
Mayor Rick Meehan said that the residual effects of the passing storm, including wind and rain, would make it logistically challenging to hold the fireworks shows on Friday, but that sunny weather was forecast for the weekend.
However, Ocean City beach patrol officials said dangerous rip currents were possible, and that those rip currents could be especially troublesome if sunny skies on Saturday draw lots of people to the water.
D.C. fireworks display could be impacted by storm
Here in Washington, D.C., National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson told ABC7 that 20 to 30 mph winds could cause fireworks on National Mall to be delayed or postponed until Saturday.
Lightning could also cause a delay or postponement, she said.
Park officials planned to make any such decision as close to 9 p.m. Friday as possible.
Safe-harbor locations were also being set up in case the weather gets bad, Johnson added.