Ocracoke Island cleared as hurricane nears

Tourists on a holiday island in North Carolina were ordered to board ferries and head for the mainland today as powerful Hurricane Earl threatened to sideswipe the US East Coast.

Hyde County emergency officials said the evacuation of Ocracoke Island would start at 5am for about 5,000 visitors. The 800 or so year-round residents did not have to heed it, but Emergency Services Director Lindsey Mooney said officials hoped they would follow tourists on the two and a half hour trip to shore.

"I don't remember the last time there was a mandatory evacuation order for the island," Hyde County Commissioner Kenneth Collier said.

More evacuations along the Eastern Seaboard could follow, depending on the path taken by the Category 4 storm, which was whipping across the Caribbean with winds of 135mph (217kph).

Earl was expected to remain over the open ocean before turning north and running parallel to the East Coast, bringing high winds and heavy rain to North Carolina's Outer Banks by late tomorrow or early Friday.

From there, forecasters said, it could curve away from the coast somewhat as it makes it way north, perhaps hitting Massachusetts' Cape Cod and the Maine shoreline on Friday night and Saturday.

Forecasters cautioned that it was still too early to tell how close Earl might come to land. But not since Hurricane Bob in 1991 has such a powerful storm had such a large swathe of the East Coast in its sights, said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Centre.

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

Virginia's governor planned to declare an emergency today, a preliminary step needed to muster emergency personnel should Earl hit the state.

Yesterday, gusty winds from Earl's outer fringes whipped palm fronds and whistled through doors in the Turks and Caicos Islands as tied-down boats seesawed on white-crested surf.

Islanders gathered to watch big waves pound a Grand Turk shore as the wind sent sand and salt spray flying.

"We can hear the waves crashing against the reef really seriously," Kirk Graff, owner of the Captain Kirks Flamingo Cove Marina, said by telephone as he watched the darkening skies.

"Anybody who hasn't secured their boats by now is going to regret it."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before