Hurricane Earl remains a very powerful hurricane today moving to the northwest. A direct path to the northwest would bring the storm directly over North Carolina by Thursday night. Fortunately, most all computer models indicate the storm will turn more to the north and north-northeast at the last minute just skirting the coast. The eye may remain just offshore possibly crossing near Cape Hatteras into the early morning hours Friday. The storm is so large though, that much of the coast, especially the Outer Banks, will be battered by the storm.
Along the Outer Banks, we expect hurricane force wind gusts (75mph+) by Thursday night through early Friday morning along with heavy rain bands. High surf could cause Highway 12 in parts of the Outer Banks to be washed over.
Just south of the Outer Banks along the Crystal Coast (Morehead City-Atlantic Beach-Emerald Isle), there's a slight chance for a brief hurricane force wind gust, but tropical storm force winds (40mph-74mph) are expected along with locally heavy rain.
Along the Cape Fear coast, occasional tropical storm force wind gusts are possible along with some rain.
Inland areas across central North Carolina should not be impacted by Earl based on its latest forecast track.
We'll have to watch very closely for the northerly turn tomorrow. There is still a possibility that that turn could take longer to occur. In that case, there could still be a dramatic change in the forecast.
Stay tuned to News 14 Carolina and news14.com for the latest updates.