Thousands People Evacuated as Hurricane Earl Prepares to Hit In North Carolina

41564.jpegHurricane Earl strengthened today, bearing down on North Carolina with winds of 145 miles (230 kilometers) per hour, prompting school closures, coastal evacuations and emergency declarations.

Dare and Hyde Counties in North Carolina said their schools will close today and tomorrow. Evacuations were ordered for Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands in the Outer Banks yesterday. North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell have both declared a state of emergency, Bloomberg reports.

Earl was expected to reach the eastern coastline in the early hours of this morning, battering North Carolina with high winds and heavy rains likely to cause dangerous floods.

Warnings were in place up and down the east coast's popular seaside resorts including Chesapeake Bay and Martha's Vineyard, where Barack Obama and his family recently holidayed.

A hurricane watch, which means dangerous conditions are possible, was in effect as far north as Maine and the Canadian area of Nova Scotia, according to

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