Hurricane Earl weakened slightly as it moved toward the coast Thursday, but it was still a dangerous Category 3 storm. Hurricane force winds were beginning to spread farther from the eye, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
The center's director, Bill Read, said hurricane winds were spread 90 miles (145 kilometers) from the eye and widening. The eye of the storm will likely remain about 30 to 75 miles (50 to 120 kilometers) east of the Outer Banks, meaning at the closest point of approach, the western edge of the eyewall could impact Cape Hatteras with huge waves, beach erosion and maybe some property damage.
"They're going to have a full impact of a major hurricane," Read said.
There will be a similar close approach later this week for the eastern tip of Long Island, Rhode Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket.