RODANTHE, N.C. — As one of the year's busiest travel weekends approaches, so does another visitor: Tropical Storm Arthur, which is expected to grow into a hurricane by July Fourth and hit most harshly at North Carolina's Outer Banks, a popular getaway spot of thin barrier islands along the shore.
The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season prompted a hurricane warning for a swath of the North Carolina coast and prompted a mandatory evacuation for visitors to the Outer Banks' Hatteras Island. Residents also were advised to leave. A voluntary evacuation was announced for Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry.
Tourism officials expected about 250,000 people to visit the Outer Banks for the holiday weekend. As word of the mandatory evacuation on Hatteras spread, a steady stream of cars, trailers and RVs began rolling north on North Carolina Highway 12, a two-lane road that is the only road to the mainland.
Officials, hotel owners and vacationers as far north as New England were also watching forecasts. The storm was enough of a concern that officials in Boston decided to move the annual Boston Pops July 4th concert and fireworks show up by a day.
Late Wednesday, the storm was 160 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C., and 380 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, and moving north at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. The National Hurricane Center expected it to grow to a Category 1 hurricane with winds of at least 74 mph by today.