AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer
Kite boarder Pete Nero secures his kite as darks clouds and rain move in on the north end of Carolina Beach, N.C., Thursday, July 3, 2014. Residents along the coast of North Carolina are bracing for the arrival of the Hurricane Arthur, which threatens to give the state a glancing blow on Independence Day. (AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer) Mike Spencer/Associated Press
A hurricane off the U.S. East Coast strengthened threatened to upend Americans' plans for Friday's Independence Day holiday.
The southern state of North Carolina braced itself for a glancing blow from Hurricane Arthur ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, prompting the governor of the southern state to warn vacationers along its coast not to risk their safety by trying to salvage their picnics and barbecues.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted Arthur would swipe the coast early Friday with winds of up to 136 km/h. The storm would be off the coast of New England later Friday and eventually make landfall in Canada's maritime provinces as a tropical storm, the Hurricane Center predicted.
Arthur expected in Atlantic Canada this weekend
Environment Canada says Arthur will "likely" affect parts of Atlantic Canada on Saturday, with "significant" wind, rainfall and potential storm surge and waves. However, the storm's exact intensity and track are still uncertain.
CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland said there is potential for Arthur to hit Nova Scotia as a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday and Newfoundland as a soggy post-tropical system on Sunday.
"This track for Atlantic Canada is of concern but is still early," he said, noting that the waters off Nova Scotia are too cool to sustain a hurricane for any length of time.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre says Nova Scotia will likely experience the highest winds, while New Brunswick and P.E.I. could see the heaviest rainfall.
The forecaster says anywhere from 50 to 100 millimetres could fall.
On Wednesday the organizers of the annual Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, N.S., announced the cancellation of the event, which was to start Friday and continue through the weekend.
"It is impossible in these circumstances for us to guarantee public safety," Troy Greencorn, the festival's artistic director, said in a statement. "It's a horrible decision to have to make after so much work by so many people, but we just aren't prepared to take the risks ... Hosting an outdoor, camping festival in a hurricane would be foolhardy."
Boston Pops concert moved up a day
In Boston, one of America's signature Fourth of July events, the annual Boston Pops outdoor concert and fireworks show, was moved up a day because of potential heavy rain ahead of the hurricane.
The performance takes place along the Charles River Esplanade, with fireworks set off from barges on the river. Hundreds of thousands of people usually attend. Organizers and public safety officials said the celebration was rescheduled for Thursday, which appeared to be the best of two potential bad weather days.
Arthur, the first named storm of the Atlantic season, prompted a hurricane warning for much of the North Carolina coast. Tropical storm warnings were in effect for coastal areas in South Carolina and Virginia.
Forecasters expect Arthur to whip past the North Carolina's Outer Banks islands on Friday without making landfall, but Gov. Pat McCrory warned vacationers along the coast not to risk their safety by trying to salvage their picnics, barbecues and pre-paid beach cottage vacations.
"Don't put your stupid hat on," McCrory said.
'Take this system very seriously'
On the Outer Banks' Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry, a voluntary evacuation was underway. A mandatory evacuation for Hatteras Island visitors began at 5 a.m.
Outer Banks residents and out-of-town visitors who fail to evacuate ahead of the hurricane's expected arrival should prepare for possibly getting stuck for several days without food, water or power, U.S. National Hurricane Center forecaster Stacy Stewart said Thursday.
"We want the public to take this system very seriously, go ahead and start their preparations because time is beginning to run out," he said.
Before sunset Wednesday on Route 12, which links North Carolina's coast and some of the Outer Banks islands, a long line of vehicles formed a steady stream of traffic. The road has been sliced apart twice in recent years as storms cut temporary channels from the ocean to the sound. The road is easily blocked by sand and water.
Other areas of the Outer Banks were taking a cautious yet optimistic approach: No evacuations had been ordered for areas north of Hatteras, including the popular town of Kill Devil Hills, which was the site of the Wright brothers' first controlled, powered airplane flights in 1903.
The holiday weekend was not expected to be a complete loss for the estimated quarter-million visitors vacationing on the Outer Banks. Forecasters said the storm would move through quickly with the worst of the weather near Cape Hatteras about dawn Friday. Then it was expected to clear.
On Thursday morning, Arthur was about 480 kilometres southwest of Cape Hatteras and moving north around 15 km/h with maximum sustained winds of 130 km/h.