A enlarged view of the forecast track for Hurricane Arthur issued at 11 a.m. EDT July 3 by the National Hurricane Center.
Graphic courtesy NHC
A view of the five-day forecast track for Hurricane Arthur issued at 11 a.m. EDT July 3 by the National Hurricane Center. The storm was located about 110 miles south-southwest of Cape Fear, NC.
Preparations for Independence Day celebrations are on hold along the U.S. east coast, as Hurricane Arthur continues to strengthen Thursday morning.
Arthur, the first hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic season, is forecast to become a Category 2 hurricane within about 12 hours, as it passes over or near the coast of North Carolina. It reaches its peak intensity within 24 hours, with a forecast for maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.
Arthur is expected to begin to weaken by Friday night and become a post-tropical cyclone Saturday.
Watches and warnings are in effect from Surf City North Carolina to the Virginia border, as well as the coast of South Carolina.
First storm of the season
Hurricane season began June 1 and continues through Nov. 30.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationís Climate Prediction Center released its hurricane season outlook May 22. Experts predict that the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season will have near-normal or below-normal activity.
The outlook gives a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season. The outlook also calls for a 70 percent chance that eight to 13 names storms will form with three to six strengthening into a hurricane and one to two becoming major hurricanes. The average, from 1981 to 2010, is 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
Climate experts rank named storms and hurricanes according to wind speed. A named storm must have minimum sustained winds of 39 mph. To gain the status of a Category 1 hurricane, on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, sustained wind speeds must increase to a minimum of 74 mph. The top rank, a Category 5 has minimum sustained winds of 156 mph. A major hurricane is a Category 3 or higher. A Category 3 has minimum sustained winds of 111 mph.