BUXTON, NC – Hurricane Earl churned past the North Carolina Outer Banks and its powerful gusts and driving rains were starting to be felt in southeastern Virginia early Friday, the beginning of at least 24 hours of stormy, windy weather along the East Coast.Earl had weakened all day Thursday, winding down from a Category 4 storm with winds of 140 mph to a Category 2 storm with winds of 105 mph. But it still packed enough of a punch to send rain sideways and shake signs in Buxton, the southeastern-most tip of the Outer Banks. And the National Hurricane Center expected Earl to remain a large hurricane as it approached southeastern New England.Residents and officials of North Carolina's barrier islands were waiting for daybreak to see how much damage the storm's winds and waves had left behind. But National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Collins said Earl had produced little storm surge and only minor flooding in some coastal counties. Predictions of storm surges between 2 and 4 feet may be too much, he said.