(Updates with AccuWeather comment in third paragraph.)
July 3 (Bloomberg) -- Arthur strengthened off the coast of North Carolina to become the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, packing maximum winds of 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour.
The system was about 190 miles south-southwest of Cape Fear, North Carolina, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said in an advisory at 5 a.m. local time. It was traveling north at 9 miles per hour and is expected to move near to the North Carolina Outer Banks tonight, the advisory said.
“Hurricane Arthur is going to greatly affect the Outer Banks of North Carolina,” Rob Richards, meteorologist at State College, Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather Inc. said by phone today. “They could see winds as high as maybe 90 to 95 miles per hour with flooding rainfall.”
Arthur would be the first hurricane to hit the U.S. since 2012 should it strike North Carolina’s Outer Banks. A hurricane warning is in place from Surf City, North Carolina, to the border with Virginia, Pamlico Sound and Eastern Albemarle Sound, the notice said.
Officials in Dare County, North Carolina, where at least 250,000 vacationers are spending their Fourth of July holiday, issued a mandatory evacuation order for Hatteras Island beginning today.
A countywide state of emergency was declared in neighboring Hyde County, where officials called for a voluntary evacuation of Ocracoke Island. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory declared states of emergency throughout coastal areas.
--With assistance from Lynn Doan in San Francisco.