Proving far less damaging than feared, Hurricane Arthur left tens of thousands of people without power in a swipe at North Carolina's dangerously exposed Outer Banks, then brought lousy Fourth of July beach weather to the Northeast as it veered out to sea.
The weather along the narrow barrier islands whose beaches draw hundreds of thousands of tourists every summer had already cleared by yesterday afternoon as Arthur scooted north and its outer bands scraped the Delaware and New Jersey shores. Forecasters predicted the storm would weaken before its centre moves over western Nova Scotia in Canada early today.
While state and local officials worked to restore access to Hatteras Island and help those who had suffered storm and flooding damage, the effects of the hurricane were mostly confined to that part of the state. Farther south, the beaches were once again packed with people soaking up the sun.
Arthur struck North Carolina as a Category 2 storm with winds of 160 kph late Thursday, taking about five hours to move across the far eastern part of the state.
About 40,000 people lost power, and the rush of water from the ocean on one side and the sound on the other side buckled part of North Carolina Highway 12 in a spot on Hatteras Island that was breached in Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Dozens of workers were heading to fix the highway, and the Department of Transportation said it was confident the road would reopen today as long as an underwater sonar test of a key bridge showed no problems.
No injuries or deaths were reported. After praising emergency officials and saying the state dodged a bullet, Gov McCrory noted that all of North Carolina's beaches were open outside of the Outer Banks and encouraged residents and visitors to enjoy the holiday. He was heading to the beach himself for an Independence Day parade in Southport, a welcome surprise when he expected to be stuck in Raleigh monitoring the storm all day.