Evacuations are under way in parts of North Carolina, where Hurricane Arthur threatens to drench coastal areas today. The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm to a hurricane early this morning.
Arthur is now packing maximum sustained winds of 75 mph; it could bring hurricane conditions to North Carolina tonight.
The center is issuing a hurricane warning from Surf City, N.C., to the Virginia/North Carolina border, meaning the storm is expected within that area. The watch region also includes large bodies of water such as Pamlico Sound, near the Outer Banks, and Eastern Albemarle Sound, near Kitty Hawk.
Tourists are being told to leave Hatteras Island as of this morning; evacuations are optional for residents. An optional evacuation order is in place for the Outer Banks' Ocracoke Island. But officials are urging everyone on the coast to be cautious.
"Don't put your stupid hat on," North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said, according to Wilmington WWAY TV News. "Usually most injuries occur right before a storm or right after a storm, so especially on the coastal area, we want to make sure people don't try out the great waves before the storm comes, even though they are good waves."
The storm surge may reach 2 to 4 feet in the watch area, according to the hurricane center.
The storm is adding new worries to holiday plans for the Fourth of July weekend: Near North Carolina, tourists could now face wet roads and evacuations, while farther north, event organizers are adjusting their plans to account for potentially heavy rains.
In Massachusetts, officials are moving the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular up one day, to be sure to put on the full show of music and fireworks.
"Tomorrow, the third, gets us the best opportunity to get the musical portion of the show and the fireworks show off," Massachusetts State Police Col. Timothy Alben said, according to Boston.com.
For vacationers who do make it to the shore, they should take care in the ocean: The hurricane center says Arthur has churned the water from Florida to North Carolina, creating treacherous rip currents in some areas.
Despite those worries, Arthur isn't expected to make a full landfall in the U.S.
"After it passes by the North Carolina coast, it's going to continue moving off quickly to the northeast," hurricane specialist Michael Brennan tells our Newscast unit, "and remain offshore of the Mid-Atlantic and offshore of the Northeastern United States, and move into the Canadian maritime by late Saturday."