Hurricane Earl maintained its major hurricane status overnight and strengthened a little to maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (Cat 4). Gusts are as high as 175 mph. Just for perspective, that wind gust speed is the same as what occurs in an EF-4 tornado. Hurricane force winds (74 mph +) extend out from the eye of the storm 90 miles, with tropical storm force winds (39-73 mph) extending out about 230 miles. The eye of the storm is about 360 miles south-southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina early Thursday morning. Earl will likely pass about 40 miles to the east of Hatteras overnight tonight as either a strong Cat 3 or Cat 4 hurricane. As a result, Hurricane Warnings exist for all of eastern North Carolina and the Outer Banks up to the Virginia state line.
Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for all of Virginia's coast from the Eastern Shore to Hampton Roads to southeast Virginia.
High pressure in the Atlantic and a trough approaching the eastern U.S. are steering Earl's track along the East Coast.
But this will be a very close pass by the Outer Banks overnight into Friday morning:
*Tropical Storm force winds (39-73 mph) will overspread the Outer Banks this afternoon. Hurricane force winds (74 mph +) will impact the Outer Banks, especially north of Hatteras, overnight.
*Far Eastern Virginia will experience Tropical Storm force winds Friday.
*Storm surge from the south Chesapeake Bay southward along the Virginia Atlantic coast to the North Carolina state line will be 3-5FT.
*Storm surge for the rest of Virginia's Tropical Storm Warned area will be 1-3FT, with upriver flooding.
*Windy day in the rest of Central Virginia Friday at 15-25 mph, with higher gusts the farther east of I-95 you are.
There are a trio of named storms in the Atlantic right now, including Earl, but also including two tropical storms: Fiona and Gaston.
As for Gaston, it's still too soon to say where it will track once it approaches the Leeward Islands.