Hurricane Earl wasn’t being forecast to make landfall on the East Coast as of noon Wednesday, but officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Hurricane Center said that could change by Thursday.
The storm, which had sustained winds of 125 mph at 11 a.m., was expected to come to within 100 to 150 miles of the Outer Banks of North Carolina late Thursday or early Friday, then turn toward the northeast, said National Hurricane Center director Bill Read during a telephone press conference. However, if the storm turns later than that, he said, it could make landfall over the Outer Banks as a Category 3 hurricane.
Read said that, although the skies are currently blue and the "water is great" at the Outer Banks, the state of North Carolina is already beginning to evacuate the area. With high waves and rip currents expected all along the East Coast, he said, communities need plenty of time to evacuate residents. He said that anyone planning a vacation along the East Coast should have an evacuation plan in place in the event that the hurricane hits.
Mike Rusnak, meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Wakefield, said that the current forecast predicts high winds for the Chesapeake Bay, but not as high as tropical storm force, and he said there’s currently no hurricane watch or warning for the Chesapeake Bay.