Hurricane Arthur hit North Carolina's Outer Banks with category 2 winds overnight. Arthur's impact was magnified by a last minute left turn that put Cape Hatteras directly in the cross-hairs. Ahead of the storm thousands of residents and visitors in the region were ordered to evacuate. Those who ignored the order were warned to expect to spend at least three days without power, water or food. Early reports are part of the main escape route, Highway 12 may have been washed out, making it nearly impossible to get in or out on wheels.
NHC forecaster Daniel Brown says in his Friday morning discussion the latest model runs are starting to diverge. “The track guidance becomes very divergent after 48 hours, with the ECMWF taking the cyclone northward and northwestward while the GFS shows an east-northeastward motion near Newfoundland. Out of continuity for the previous forecasts, the NHC track continues to follow the eastward scenario shown by the GFS and GFS ensemble mean, but it now shows a somewhat slower motion by day 5. It is possible that this portion of the track will need to be adjusted in future forecasts.
Arthur's top winds fell below category 2 levels after it hit the North Carolina coast and it is currently a category 1 storm with 90 mile an hour, top winds. The current forecast shows Arthur taking a parallel course along the Eastern Seaboard that will keep it offshore where it should lose its tropical characteristics with the next day or so. Canadian forecasters have replaced tropical storm watches with tropical storm warnings for the Maritime Provinces.
As the cleanup begins in North Carolina it's well to keep in mind an early lesson: even though Arthur stayed within the “cone of uncertainty” it's course changed at the last minute to change it from an inconvenience to an extremely dangerous storm for the Outer Banks. It also vividly illustrated the dangers of storm surge as it first whipped ocean waters across the barrier islands into the sound separating the islands from the mainland on the way in. Then it whipped the waters from the sound back across the islands.