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Friday, 04 July 2014 - 8:16
Hurricane Arthur skirts North Carolina
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Hurricane Arthur, packing winds of 100mph, is heading up the coast of US state North Carolina, forcing thousands to abandon their 4 July holiday plans.

The eye of the first hurricane of the season, now a Category 2 storm, was 45 miles (72km) east of Cape Fear as of 20:00 local time (00:00 Friday GMT), the US National Hurricane Center said.

Its outer bands are currently lashing rain on North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Thousands have vacated the string of narrow barrier islands.

Ferries and highways were packed as people left, while towns all along the state's coast have rescheduled Independence Day events and fireworks.

The centre of the storm moved slightly west on Thursday afternoon and was expected to pass over the North Carolina Outer Banks late Thursday, bringing flooding and storm surges further inland.

A mandatory evacuation of Hatteras Island, the easternmost strip of land in the Outer Banks, began early on Thursday, when Tropical Storm Arthur was upgraded to hurricane status.

It was made a Category 2 hurricane late the same day, which means winds reached 96mph.

After passing North Carolina, Arthur was expected to weaken as it travels north along the East Coast.
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