Arthur strengthens, moves toward North Carolina

Hurricane warnings extended for parts of east coast

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Hurricane Arthur is strengthening in the Atlantic, threatening to deliver North Carolina a glancing blow on Independence Day.

[MORE:  Forecast cone | HHQ | Radar | Hurricane App | Share weather photos]

The hurricane's maximum sustained winds late Thursday morning were 90 mph. Hurricane warnings on North Carolina's coast stretch from Surf City to the Virginia border.

A hurricane watch is in effect for other parts of the state. A tropical storm warning covers parts of South Carolina and Virginia.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Arthur is centered about 260 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 110 miles south-southwest of Cape Fear. It's moving north at 14 mph.

Residents and some visitors on parts of North Carolina's popular but flood-prone Outer Banks are under evacuation orders.

Arthur-related worries have prompted some East Coast cities to reschedule or delay fireworks and other July Fourth festivities and to warn of dangerous rip tides.

On Wednesday, the storm made for a rough vacation week for many tourists visiting Daytona Beach and Flagler Beach in Central Florida.

"The girls love to come out here and boogy board, but we never expected it to be like this," said mother Sheila Westendorf, who was visiting with her family from San Antonio.

Some surfers said they loved the rough waves. Others, like Kerstan Chojnacki of Maryland, didn't.

"I've only been surfing for about a year and a half now, and I can't really handle it," Chojnacki said. "Some of the kids here, the locals, are tearing it up."

According to Volusia and Flagler beach patrols, no one was rescued from the rough waters on Wednesday, mostly because the water was too intimidating for many to venture into.

NASA on Wednesday retweeted a photo of Arthur taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

"Just flew over TS – hoping it heads to sea. Looks mean," the tweet said.

"We have been tracking scattered showers in Central Florida from these outer bands, but it hasn't been real substantial," said Local 6 meteorologist Elizabeth Hart said Wednesday. "Most of the rain is out over the Atlantic."

On Tuesday, red flags warned surfers and swimmers about the potential rip currents, but that didn't keep some of the adventurous from getting in the water.  Volusia County Beach Rescue said they rescued at least 21 people from the surf.

Volusia County Emergency Management activated their operations center on Tuesday afternoon, calling a Level 3 alert for the region.

But the director says it was more of a precaution than anything else.

"I think we had worse weather last week in Daytona Beach than what we're about to be experiencing," said Jim Judge, Volusia County Emergency Management director.  "Last week, we had wind gusts of 60 mph, we had frequent lightning, hail and a lot of wind."

High temperatures in Orlando will remain in the low and mid-90s all week, with rain chances around 40 percent.

Watch Local 6 News and stay with for more on this story.

Copyright 2014 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.