Earl approaches North Carolina

MIAMI – A hurricane warning has been issued for the North Carolina coast as powerful Hurricane Earl approaches the East Coast.

Also, a hurricane watch has been extended into Delaware on Wednesday.

Visitors have been taking ferries off Ocracoke Island and told to leave neighboring Cape Hatteras in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and federal authorities are warning people all along the Eastern seaboard to be prepared to evacuate. Emergency officials as far north as Maine are checking their equipment and urging people to have disaster plans and supplies ready.

Meanwhile, a new tropical depression has formed far out in the Atlantic. The depression has maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kph) but is likely to strengthen into a tropical storm in the next 48 hours.

Previously: RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Powerful Hurricane Earl wheeled toward the East Coast, driving the first tourists Wednesday from North Carolina vacation islands and threatening damaging winds and waves up the Atlantic seaboard over Labor Day weekend.

Visitors were taking ferries off Ocracoke Island and told to leave neighboring Cape Hatteras in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and federal authorities have warned people all along the Eastern seaboard to be prepared to evacuate. Emergency officials as far north as Maine were checking their equipment and urging people to have disaster plans and supplies ready.

Earl was still more than 700 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, with top sustained winds of 125 mph. It was on track to near the North Carolina shore late Thursday or early Friday and then blow north off the coast, with forecasters cautioning that it was still too early to tell how close the storm may come to land.

Hurricane watches were out from Surf City, N.C., to Virginia’s Parramore Island. Not since Hurricane Bob in 1991 has such a powerful storm had such a large swath of the East Coast in its sights, said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.

“A slight shift of that track to the west is going to impact a great deal of real estate with potential hurricane-force winds,” Feltgen said.

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