Earl back to Category 4; Prompts state of emergency in NC

RALEIGH, NC (WCSC/AP) - Gov. Bev Perdue signed an executive order Wednesday afternoon to declare a State of Emergency in North Carolina, as residents anticipate the arrival of Hurricane Earl.

The declaration has called for all state and local government agencies to cooperate in provisions of the North Carolina Emergency Operations Plan.

The North Carolina Division of Emergency Management continues to work alongside local emergency managers to respond to any effects of Hurricane Earl.

Officials said ferries will be running extra routes from Ocracoke Island for evacuations. All other ferry service is on normal operations.

An emergency shelter has also opened in Pitt County at North Pitt High School in Bethel to accommodate those who need assistance.

Tourists on Ocracoke Island and Hatteras Island, North Carolina have already been told to evacuate, and more evacuations are expected. Officials worry that high waves could wash over N.C. Highway 12, the principle road along the Outer Banks.

Earl's expected to bring high winds and heavy rain to N.C.'s Outer Banks by late Thursday or early Friday.

Earl has winds churning around 125 miles per hour and forecasters say waves will reach up to 17-feet at the height of the storm. People from Virginia and north to New England are also keeping a close eye on earl. The storm could hit there this weekend.

Dangerous surf and rip currents along the Lowcountry coastline are expected as Earl approaches.

Hurricane Earl is once again a strong category 4 hurricane and Tropical Storm Fiona continues to approach the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles. Earl has been moving steadily north-westward and that motion should continue until it begins a bit more of a northward motion later Wednesday night and on into Thursday.

Earl should still stay east of the South Carolina coast, but the Lowcountry can expect very rough surf, moderate beach erosion and dangerous rip currents.

Hyde County emergency management is evacuating Ocracoke Island Wednesday morning. The evacuation order affects about 5,000 visitors. The fewer than 800 people who live there year round are also asked to leave, but are not required to.

Tropical Storm Fiona is getting stronger Wednesday and the long term track of where this storm may go is still up in the air.

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