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Updated: Thu, 03 Jul 2014 22:53:26 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Hurricane Arthur skirts U.S. East Coast, heads to Atlantic Canada



Kyler Cook, 18, from Tiffen, Ohio, walks through the storm surge of Hurricane Arthur, in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina July 3, 2014. Arthur threatens to douse some July 4 holiday plans on the U.S. East Coast as officials ordered evacuations of some low-lying coastal areas, closed beaches and tourist sites and delayed fireworks shows in anticipation of heavy rain and fierce winds. REUTERS/Randall Hill (© UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)

Kyler Cook, 18, from Tiffen, Ohio, walks through the storm surge of Hurricane Arthur, in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina July 3, 2014. Arthur threatens to douse some July 4 holiday plans on the U.S. East Coast as officials ordered evacuations of some low-lying coastal areas, closed beaches and tourist sites and delayed fireworks shows in anticipation of heavy rain and fierce winds. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY) - RTR3X0L1 Randall Hill/Reuters

Hurricane Arthur, still gaining power off the U.S. East Coast, is threatening Americans’ Independence Day plans and promising a windy and wet weekend for the Atlantic provinces.

By 9 p.m. ET, Arthur had grown into a Category 2 hurricane with wind speeds of approximately 160 km/h, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Arthur hasn't made landfall yet, but images from North Carolina show a strong storm surge already rolling onto the shoreline.

Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Bob Robichaud said he expects Arthur to weaken as it moves north and become a strong post-tropical storm with sustained winds of 65 km/h or more when it arrives late Friday or early Saturday. 

"We're still looking right now at a tropical storm arriving, but very, very close to hurricane strength," he said.

"So yes, this is something we're watching quite closely."

Robichaud said the storm is also expected to pack plenty of rain, including a possible 100 millimetres in parts of New Brunswick.

"In terms of the worst wind, it looks like Nova Scotia and in terms of the worst rain it looks like New Brunswick," he said.

The looming storm has also cancelled several weekend events, including the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, N.S., which was set to begin on Friday and run throughout the weekend.Residents on the south coast of Nova Scotia are being told to brace for 90 km/h rain gusts and local flooding.

"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."

CBC meteorologist Ian Black said the weekend weather will be "nasty," but it could have been much worse.

"The good news is that the warm waters that help feed this hurricane and intensify it into a Category 2, those warm waters get really cold once you get close to Canada," CBC meteorologist Ian Black said. "That's not going to support a hurricane, so that hurricane's going to weaken as it slams through here."

Hurricane forces evacuations in North Carolina

The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted Arthur would swipe the coast early Friday with winds of up to 136 km/h, with North Carolina set to take Hurricane Arthur's biggest punch. 

On the Outer Banks region's Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry, a voluntary evacuation was underway, while a mandatory evacuation of visitors from nearby Hatteras Island 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.

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 at around 15 km/h.

Boston Pops concert moved up a day

Up north 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.

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