Hurricane Arthur is creeping closer to the North Carolina coast at this hour, with winds of more than 90 MPH hanging just a few dozen miles offshore. The system is expected to strengthen to category 2 status with 105 MPH winds over the next day as it pounds the Outer Banks.

The main impacts of Hurricane Arthur include:

  • Hurricane-force winds along the North Carolina coast, with gusts possibly exceeding 110 MPH at times. Tropical storm-force winds between 39 and 73 MPH are possible from Myrtle Beach, S.C. up through the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, including Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
  • A dangerous storm surge of 3 to 5 feet in the hurricane warning, with a slightly smaller surge elsewhere in the tropical storm warning areas.
  • 3 to 5 inches of rain across far eastern North Carolina, with up to 7 inches of rain possible in the heaviest rainbands.
  • Lethal rip currents are expected all along the East Coast as the hurricane makes its way north to Canada this weekend. Use common sense and don't go in the water if officials put up a red flag. If you do so anyway and get caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you're no longer in the current.
  • As with all landfalling tropical cyclones, isolated tornadoes are possible in any of Arthur's rainbands, especially the ones where thunderstorms remain discrete (individual storms) rather than coming in as a line.

Flooding of low-lying coastal areas will soon occur if it hasn't already, so if you're in the area and did not/could not evacuate, do not drive or wade through floodwaters. "Turn around, don't drown" as the National Weather Service says.

Arthur's eye is clearly visible on both satellite and radar imagery, sitting about 90 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina at 100PM Eastern. Areas as far inland as Raleigh are experiencing thunderstorms from Arthur's rainbands, and I can even see the edge of the hurricane's cirrus clouds from the window of The Vane's glass-enclosed nerve center nestled deep in the middle of nowhere in the North Carolina Piedmont:

While we're just seeing clouds, areas of the eastern part of the state are dealing with steadily worsening conditions.

Radar imagery shows a pretty well-defined hurricane slowly moving towards the coast, with areas from Myrtle Beach to Wilmington experiencing the worst conditions. Winds along and near the coast are ticking up close to tropical storm force (39 MPH) in some spots. A weather station in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina reported a wind gust of 35 MPH a little while ago.

The base velocity product of Doppler radar, which measures windspeed, shows a huge swath of 80 to 90 MPH winds sitting off the coast at between 4,000 to 6,000 feet above the ocean. The National Hurricane Center says that Arthur's maximum winds as of 11 AM were 90 MPH in the eyewall. These hurricane-force winds will begin to impact coastal areas later this afternoon and evening and continuing through the day tomorrow.

The only issue I see right now that could keep Arthur from reaching triple-digit wind speeds would be some dry air that's working its way into the core of the storm right now. Hurricanes hate dry air — it's like a fish trying to breathe air. It just doesn't work. We'll see how much the dry air affects its strength over the next few hours.

The National Hurricane Center will release its next advisory at 5 PM Eastern.

[Images via GOES, author, Gibson Ridge, Gibson Ridge, GOES]