Hurricane Earl re-strengthened to a Category 4 storm on Wednesday afternoon, and the system is threatening the U.S. coast and Atlantic Canada.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Earl will likely sideswipe the densely populated coast from North Carolina to New England. At this point, forecasters are expecting the main core to remain offshore.
A hurricane watch has been issued for most of the North Carolina coastline. Campers have already been evacuated from Ocracoke Island on the state's Outer Banks, and more evacuations are expected.
Hurricane Earl is forecast to clip the barrier islands of North Carolina's Outer Banks on Thursday night. The storm will arrive just ahead of the Labour Day holiday weekend, which traditionally marks the end of summer.
“It's so important for people to monitor the progress of this storm, have their plans and be ready and be flexible,” said U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administer Craig Fugate.
Hurricane Earl has already lashed parts of the Caribbean. On Monday, Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands took the biggest hit. By Tuesday, the outer bands of the storm were bringing large swells to the Bahamas.
After it skirts the U.S. eastern seaboard, Earl is forecast to charge toward Atlantic Canada. Just how much of an impact the storm will have on the Maritimes and Newfoundland is still to be determined.
“A lot of the forecast models are agreeing that Earl will track up the eastern seaboard and bring heavy rains and winds to Atlantic Canada. Whether it will bring a direct hit is still uncertain,” says Dayna Vettese, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.
Earl's arrival in Atlantic Canada could cause power outages, flooding, and evacuations.
“You want to make sure that you have the ability to sustain yourself for approximately 72 hours,” says Bill Lawlor, the Canadian Red Cross' director of disaster management for Atlantic Canada. “Make sure you have enough water on hand -- so two to four litres per person per day. You want to make sure that you have lots of non-perishable food items.”
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Fiona is also swirling in the Atlantic Ocean. It is expected to remain a tropical storm and will likely have a minimal impact on any land. And behind Fiona a new tropical storm has just been named Gaston.
For the latest updates on the wind speed and direction of these storms, check our Tropical Storm Centre.
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With files from Lisa Varano and Andrea Stockton