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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Powerful Hurricane Earl spun toward the East Coast on Wednesday, driving tourists from North Carolina's vacation islands and threatening to bring damaging winds and waves all along the Atlantic seaboard through Labor Day weekend.
Visitors took ferries off of Ocracoke Island and were told to leave neighboring Cape Hatteras in North Carolina's Outer Banks, and federal authorities have warned people along the coast to be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
Earl's effect on the East Coast will depend on when it makes its expected turn to the northeast.
A later-than-expected turn could mean the storm's eye makes landfall on the extreme eastern tip of North Carolina as a Category 3 storm late Thursday or early Friday.
If that happens, hurricane-force winds also could reach New York's Long Island and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
Even if it doesn't, dangerous rip currents likely to be felt from the Carolinas north.
Virginia's Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency as a precaution, allowing the state to position staff and resources ahead of the storm. Emergency officials as far north as Maine urged people to have disaster plans and supplies ready.
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