At 7am CDT...the center of Hurricane Earl was located 355 miles South of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Earl is now moving to the North/Northwest at 18 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 145 mph.
Earl is expected to start turning more toward the North and then North/Northeast over the next 24 hours. Intensity is expected to remain the same or vary little today, then Earl will likely start to slowly weaken tonight as the system moves into colder water and an area of stronger winds aloft which will start to shear the sytem apart slowly. Earl will still be a strong hurricane, however, as it passes near the North Carolina coast tonight.
With the present and forecast track in mind...the center of Earl, and thus the corresponding area of strongest winds, will pass just offshore of North Carolina late tonight and early Friday morning. However...keep in mind that hurricane force winds extend out up to 90 miles from the center, which means hurricane force winds are still likely to impact the North Carolina coast. Also, tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 230 miles from the center of the storm, and will definately impact the coastline as well later today & tonight.
In the longer range, forecast models continue to show Earl turning more toward the Northeast on Friday. It is still likely that some impacts will be felt along parts of the New England coast, particularly Massachussetts, late Friday and early Saturday.
By that time, Earl will have weakened some, due to the colder waters and interaction with both westerly winds aloft and at least minimal contact with the shoreline. Still, maximum sustained winds are expected to range from 95-100 mph at that time. If the extent of hurricane & tropical storm force winds from the center has not changed (insofar as the distance is concerned), then significant impact would still be possible in that region.
Dangerous rip currents and high waves are already being observed all along the East coast from the Carolinas up through New England...and this will continue into at least the first half of the holiday weekend, particularly further North along the coast as Earl progresses.