Hurricane Earl packed winds near 140 mph as it blew toward North Carolina on Thursday, putting the Eastern Seaboard up to Maine on alert for a Labor Day weekend pounding by waves, gales and rain.
A hurricane warning for the tip of Massachusetts, including Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, joined earlier warnings and watches for hurricanes or tropical storms that stretch from North Carolina up to near the Canadian border.
Earl was a dangerous category 4 storm with no significant change in strength forecast before it comes close to the Outer Banks late Thursday, then turns north in rough parallel to the coast, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
The center's director, Bill Read, said the eye of the storm will likely remain about 30 to 75 miles east of the Outer Banks. At the closest point of approach, the western edge of the eye wall could impact Cape Hatteras, with huge waves, beach erosion and maybe some property damage from the waves.
"They're going to have a full impact of a major hurricane," Read said. "Maybe not the strongest winds but a large area of tropical storm force and probably gusts to hurricane force along the islands."