Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hurricane Earl Path: Evacuation of Ocracoke Island, Watch in Virginia

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hurricane Earl Path: Evacuation of Ocracoke Island, Watch in Virginia

Article excerpt

Hurricane Earl path is likely to be near Cape Hatteras Thursday night. Both it and Ocracoke Island are under evacuation orders.

Hurricane warnings have been posted for much of the North Carolina coast, and a hurricane watch has been issued for the Virginia and Maryland coasts as hurricane Earl prepares to begin its flirtation with the US Eastern Seaboard.

Current forecast tracks have hurricane Earl's path swirling past Cape Hatteras Thursday night and into Friday morning. In such forecasts, it would be a "major" hurricane, one whose maximum sustained winds top 110 miles an hour. The storm, currently a Category 3 hurricane, is packing maximum sustained winds of 125 miles an hour.

If the current track holds, the center of the storm is expected to skirt Cape Cod Friday night and make landfall Saturday on the southern tip of Nova Scotia.

IN PICTURES: Huge hurricanes

Officials in North Carolina have ordered the evacuation of Cape Hatteras, as well as Ocracoke Island - both popular summer-vacation spots. Virginia, meanwhile, is under a low-level hurricane watch, rather than a warning. Nevertheless, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has declared a state of emergency to give officials time to put people and supplies in locations that would allow for the fastest response to any damage, as well as anticipate evacuations.

His early response highlights the challenge that Earl - one of the most powerful storms to threaten the East Coast since hurricane Bob in 1991 - presents as it pirouettes its way along the coast.

The goal is to have evacuations complete by the time tropical- storm-force winds arrive at a given location, explains Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington. Otherwise, evacuations across causeways or high bridges connecting barrier islands with the mainland become quite dangerous.

If a tropical cyclone makes landfall head-on, forecasters can narrow their estimates of the swath of coast in need of watches or warnings. …

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