Hurricane Earl update

All is calm in most parts of NC so far but it’s a different story along the coastal/Outer Banks areas:

A hurricane warning was issued late Wednesday morning for parts of the North Carolina coast, and Hurricane Earl’s approach touched off evacuations on some Outer Banks islands.

The warning affects an area stretching from Bogue Inlet, near Camp Lejeune, northward to the North Carolina-Virginia border. That includes all of the Outer Banks area, including Albemarle and Pamlico sounds.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the area from Bogue Inlet southward to Cape Fear, near Wilmington.

That means all of the North Carolina coast is covered by some type of warning, except Brunswick County between Wilmington and the South Carolina line.

Ferries began carrying vacationers and residents off Ocracoke Island before daybreak Wednesday, as authorities along the Outer Banks prepared for Thursday’s expected close encounter with Hurricane Earl.

Earl’s top sustained winds decreased a bit overnight, from 135 mph to 125 mph. But as a Category 3 storm, it remains a major hurricane, and forecasters say it will pass close enough to the coast to cause major problems.


At 8 a.m., the center of Hurricane Earl was 780 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, and the storm was moving toward the northwest at 16 mph. Little change is expected today in Earl’s strength or course.

But forecasters said the science of meteorology isn’t precise enough to guarantee Earl’s strongest winds won’t come ashore.

“Even a small error in the track – of 100 miles – could make a huge difference in the storm’s impact,” said Bill Read, National Hurricane Center director.

And even if the hurricane’s eye remains offshore, forecasters still expect tropical storm-force winds, battering waves and dangerous rip currents to affect the Outer Banks. Those waves and rip currents are predicted to affect all of the Carolinas coast through Friday.

When Earl first started gaining major strength, there was some speculation that it could be the 2010 version of Hurricane Hugo, which affected a lot more than the coastal area  of SC back in September 1989. I remember it well. Some were without power in the Charlotte area for as much as a month. Our neighborhood was without power for two weeks. My mom was actually so desperate for the power to be restored that she half-jokingly urged me to put on my best casual outfit and go talk to the power guys in the area, in hopes that our power would be restored sooner. LOL.

Other hurricanes have made it far inland into NC since then (Floyd comes to mind – impacted Raleigh area and eastward), but the Charlotte area hasn’t seen a ‘cane of this magnitude since Hugo.

Trivia: The former Charlotte Hornets had a mascot named Hugo, but – contra to popular assumption – it was not named for Hurricane Hugo as the Hornets first year in Charlotte was 1988. After the hurricane in 1989, there had been some discussion about changing its name, but team owners decided to keep it. Hugo is still Hugo in New Orleans.

Anyway, thoughts prayers to all those who are in Earl’s projected path. My family lived near the coast for a few years prior to moving to Charlotte in the early 80s, so I remember a little bit about the frenzy that ensues after coastal tropical storm and hurricane warnings are issued. Take care, and make sure if you are in the path of the storm to evacuate.

For all the latest developments on Hurricane Earl, follow @wxbrad.