A hurricane warning has been issued for the North Carolina coastal waters from Surf City northward to Duck, including the Pamlico and eastern Albemarle Sounds.
The warning was issued at 5 p.m. by the National Hurricane Center as Tropical Storm Arthur continued its Atlantic trek northward from east of the Florida coast, with sustained winds of 70.
It was expected to become a Category One hurricane by Wednesday evening when it reaches sustained winds of 74 mph.
Its forecast track takes it northward to east of Charleston, S.C., at 2 p.m. Thursday, then parallel northeastward along the coast and possibly over the Outer Banks sometime Thursday night or early Friday, before moving away Friday afternoon.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect for the rest of northeastern North Carolina, including the Albemarle region. Tropical storm force winds of 39 mph to 73 mph are possible 80 miles away from the center of Arthur, the Hurricane Center said.
Tropical storm conditions in the Albemarle are possible by Thursday afternoon and expected by Thursday evening, with heavy rainfall and gusty winds.
Rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches are expected, with minor flooding possible.
The exact track of the storm was still subject to change.
Counties included in the tropical storm warning area include Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, Chowan and Perquimans.
Meanwhile, earlier Wednesday Tony Saavedra, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said worst of the storm should occur at Cape Hatteras about dawn Friday, with 3 to 5 inches of rain and sustained winds up to 85 mph, said
The N.C. Department of Transportation is running round-the-clock service on its Ocracoke-Hatteras ferry run in response to a voluntary evacuation order issued by Hyde County in advance of Arthur. DOT officials also announced that tolls on the Ocracoke-Cedar Island and Ocracoke-Swan Quarter ferry runs will be waived until the evacuation order is lifted.
Service will continue until weather conditions make it unsafe to operate.
Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Management Coordinator Christy Saunders said she is keeping a close eye on Arthur and its path.
The warning has already prompted one area community to postpone its annual Fourth of July fireworks show. Currituck County has postponed its show scheduled for Friday to 5 p.m. on Monday. Other area communities are monitoring the weather and expected to make announcements about their Independence Day celebrations either today or Thursday.