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Earl barrels toward East Coast

[ 2010-09-03 11:20]     字号 [] [] []  
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Hurricane Earl barreled toward the US Eastern Seaboard on Thursday with winds swirling at around 145 kph. Forecasters were trying to pinpoint how close the strongest winds and heaviest surge would get to North Carolina's fragile chain of barrier islands, and whether the storm would threaten parts of the Northeast.

Already, the governors of North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland had declared states of emergency as Earl whirled into a powerful Category 4 storm. The highest storm category is 5 and has winds of 250 kph and higher.

"There is still concern that this track, the core of the storm, could shift a little farther to the west and have a very significant impact on the immediate coastline. Our present track keeps it offshore, but you never know," National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a tropical storm warning early Thursday for the coast of Long Island in New York, and a hurricane watch was issued for areas of Massachusetts.

Earl's first encounter with the US mainland should come around midnight Thursday, as the storm is forecast to pass just off North Carolina's Cape Hatteras, bringing wind gusts of up to 161 kph.

Early Thursday, North Carolina's Outer Banks had only light winds and high clouds as the eye of Earl was hundreds of miles south of Cape Hatteras. Those conditions were expected to deteriorate throughout the day.

While thousands of tourists heeded calls to evacuate Hatteras Island, locals familiar with hurricanes vowed to ride out Earl, preparing to spend days stranded from the mainland.

Along with the 30,000 residents and visitors asked to leave Hatteras Island, 5,000 more tourists were ordered to leave Ocracoke Island, which is only accessible by ferry and airplane.

Evacuations continued early Thursday.

Many people - boaters, beachgoers and residents - were adopting a wait-and-see approach, making simple preparations like stocking up on food or attaching hurricane shutters to their houses. But with the likelihood that the storm's ultimate path will become clear on Thursday, officials expect planning to shift into high gear.

"Post-Katrina, people are really sensitive to storm preparedness," said Trace Cooper, mayor of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. "I don't think we're going to see too many people sticking around and saying they're going to have hurricane parties. You see enough pictures of people waiting on their roofs to be rescued and you decide to take precautions."

The North Carolina National Guard is deploying 80 troops to help and US President Barack Obama declared an emergency in the state.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Earl barrels toward East Coast

About the broadcaster:

Earl barrels toward East Coast

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is fluent in Korean and has a 2-year-old son.