At 4pm CDT...the center of Hurricane Earl was located about 630 miles South/Southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Earl was moving Northwest at 17 mph.
Maximum sustained winds were 135 mph, which means Earl is once again a very dangerous "category 4" storm. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from the center...while Tropical Storm Force winds extend outward up to 200 miles from the center.
Some fluctuations in intensity are likely over the next 24-36 hours, and then gradual weakening is likely once Earl begins to move further North into colder waters.
Hurricane watches and warnings have been extended further north into New England this afternoon. Earl is expected to continue on a general Northwestward track for the next 24 hours, then start curving more toward the North. The present forecast track would keep the most dangerous part of Earl just offshore of North Carolina late Thursday/early Friday. Even the most minor fluctuation in movement to the West could bring a greater impact to that region.
Also, keep in mind, due to the large size of Earl and the large coverage of hurricane & tropical storm force winds, even on the current forecast track, hurricane force winds can be expected within the warning areas beginning late Thursday and spreading Northward through Saturday.
After clipping North Carolina (if the current forecast track is maintained), the Eastern portions of Massachussetts would be next in line for a potential direct hit or very near miss, late Friday. Maine would be next in line early on Saturday. Earl will begin weakening some as he moves North of the North Carolina area and into colder waters.
We'll likely be able to pinpoint track and intensity more on Thursday as the weather situation that is expected to steer Earl is further evolved by that time.