No storm has threatened such a broad spectrum of the United States shoreline since Hurricane Bob in 1991, hurricane spokesman Dennis Feltgen said Wednesday as Hurricane Earl made its way north. The category four storm was downgraded to a category three, but was still considered to be a “large hurricane,” causing power cuts and heavy rains along its path. As of 11:00 a.m. ET, Earl was more than 800 kilometres east of Miami, Florida and traveling at approximately 28 km/h. Over the past week, Earl caused $50 million to $150 million in insured losses in the Virginia Islands, St. Maarten, St. Martin and Puerto Rico when it blew through the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, risk modeling company AIR Worldwide said.
Officials have warned that the storm could cause surges and flooding. The U.S. National Hurricane Centre issued a warning at 11 a.m. ET that extended northward into Cape Henlopen, Delaware. An earlier warning extended only from Bogue, N.C. to the North Carolina-Virginia border. Forecasters predicted the core of the hurricane would pass east and northeast of the Bahamas on Wednesday.
The storm could land anywhere between Main and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the Canadian Hurricane Centre said. CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said it is still too early to tell the impact Earl will have on Atlantic Canada, “but forecasters are fairly confident that it will still be a hurricane when it reaches Canadian waters for the weekend.” The Canadian Hurricane Centre is urging people in the Atlantic region to pay very close attention to weekend weather forecasts as the storm approaches.
Officials have ordered the evacuation of an island off the coast of North Carolina. Visitors to North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island left the area on ferries and those visiting Cape Hatteras were also told to leave; both are part of the Outer Banks, a chain of barrier islands along the state’s coast with long stretches of sandy beaches popular with vacationers. Federal authorities also warned people on the coast to be prepared to evacuate if necessary. Hyde County emergency officials asked 5,000 visitors to begin leaving Ocracoke Island at 5 a.m. ET on Wednesday. The order is not compulsory, but emergency services director Lindsay Mooney said officials hope the island’s roughly 500 year-round residents will follow tourists to shore. “A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical storm force winds,” the U.S. Hurricane Centre said in a statement. Preparations to protect people and property should be “rushed to completion” when a warning is issued, the centre said. (CBC)
On Hatteras Island, visitor John Gusciora of Leesburg, Virginia was reluctant to leave the village of Salvo, where he had rented a cottage with three families. The weather was sunny on Wednesday, with little to no breeze. “It’s disappointing. We’ve been coming down here for years and this is the best weather we’ve had until today. Now we have to try to pack our bags and beat the rush off the island,” Gusciora said. “It’s sad to go, but it’s better to be safe.” (Reuters)
On Wednesday morning the National Hurricane Centre also issued a new advisory on Tropical Storm Fiona, which is intensifying as it approaches the northern Leeward Islands. The centre issued warnings to several islands in the Caribbean in Fiona’s path. Meanwhile, a tropical depression formed in the Atlantic 1300 kilometres west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands and was expected to become Tropical Storm Gaston in the next day or two. It was forecast to move west toward the northeast Caribbean Islands.