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The National Weather Service late Wednesday morning posted a tropical storm warning for all of the North Carolina coast, meaning storm conditions are expected to arrive sometime in the next 36 hours at Tropical Storm Arthur moves north.
At 11 a.m. Wednesday, Arthur was about 260 miles south of Charleston, S.C., and 105 miles east-northeast of Cape Canaveral, Fla., and it was moving at 7 mph with sustained winds of 60 mph and some higher gusts.
The National Hurricane Center posted a hurricane watch, a lower alert level, for the coast from Bogue Inlet, near Emerald Isle, to Oregon Inlet in Dare County and for Pamlico Sound.
At the weather services Morehead City office, forecasters said both a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch were in effect for Dare, Beaufort, Hyde, Craven, Pamlico and Carteret counties.
The watch means hurricane conditions are possible within the next 48 hours.
A voluntary evacuation of Ocracoke Island is also in effect.
North Carolinas coast may see winds between 74 and 110 mph once Arthur arrives, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Inland areas will see rain and thunderstorms, forecasters predicted.
Rip currents are going to be a problem the next couple of days along the beaches, ABC11 meteorologist Don Schwenneker said. The Triangle forecast was for a 50-50 chance of rain, with possible heavy thunderstorms, Thursday and 60 percent for Thursday night, but then only 30 percent for the Fourth of July.
The Outer Banks, theyll take a little bit of a beating, said Chris Hohmann, chief meteorologist for ABC11. It shouldnt be a devastating hurricane, but a hurricanes a hurricane.
It looks like we could salvage a really good July Fourth weekend, if you just chop a few hours of Friday, said Stephen Keebler, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Wilmington. All is not lost.
Still, emergency officials along the coast were preparing for high winds and rain. Atlantic Beach on Tuesday delayed its Fourth of July fireworks by one night, until Friday, while emergency responders got into position.
Weve pulled out all of our manuals, and everybodys prepared to do what needs to be done, said David Whitlow, manager of Morehead City.
The threat of wind damage is more serious than the possibility of flooding, according to Keebler.
The city may cancel leave for some emergency responders ahead of the storm but Whitlow, along with droves of tourists, was hoping for a brief blow.
The Triangle, meanwhile, will see typical summer weather for the next few days, Hohmann said.
A cold front moving across the state from the northwest could produce rain and some isolated thunderstorms, and they might be severe in northwest parts of the Triangle, forecasters said.
Lt. Lane Munroe of the U.S. Coast Guard urged coastal boaters to be aware of the forecast and their vessels limitations, and to consider strongly securing their trailers and boats.
Usually, the first event of the season catches people off-guard, Munroe said. Theyre out of practice for a larger storm system.
Kenney: 919-829-4870; Twitter: @KenneyNC Gallagher: 818-829-4572