Correction appended, July 2, 2014
A mandatory evacuation was ordered on Hatteras Island off the North Carolina coast as Tropical Storm Arthur approached and threatened to drench much of the Eastern Seaboard.
The evacuation order, which applies to out-of-town visitors arriving for the Fourth of July weekend and residents alike, will begin at 5 a.m. on Thursday. A state of emergency was declared in the rest of Dare County and 24 other counties along the coast.
Tropical Storm Arthur, which is expected to become a hurricane by Thursday, was about 220 miles south of Charleston in the early evening on Wednesday and heading north parallel to the southeastern U.S. coast. The current forecast indicates that the storm, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, won’t make landfall in the U.S. and will weaken by early Saturday.
But with sustained winds of 60 m.p.h. and heavy rainfall, it has prompted hurricane warnings across the East Coast. The Boston Pops’ traditional July 4 concert and fireworks display was pushed from Friday to Thursday because of the severe weather threat. Coastal flooding is possible from Virginia to Cape Cod, according to AccuWeather.
The storm is expected to hit North Carolina’s Outer Banks hardest, where about 250,000 people were projected to converge for the long holiday weekend, according to the Associated Press. Twice in the past few years, storms have flooded North Carolina Route 12, the main road along the islands, making it impassable.
On Wednesday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory told residents, “Don’t put your stupid hat on,” urging potential swimmers and surfers to stay away from the water amid concerns of rip tides. “Our major goal is to ensure that no lives are lost during this upcoming storm,” he said at a news conference, according to the Associated Press.
Correction: The previous version of this article misstated that Hatteras Island is located off the South Carolina coast. It is located off the North Carolina coast.
Correction: The previous version of this article misstated that Route 12 is in South Carolina. It is in North Carolina.