NC declares state of emergency

Posted by Paige Bresky --email

RALEIGH, N.C.(AP) --- North Carolina's governor has declared a state of emergency as evacuation of the coast ahead of Hurricane Earl continues.

Earl's strongest winds are expected to reach the coast Thursday night into Friday morning. Gov. Beverly Perdue warned residents along the Outer Banks to leave those areas immediately.

Already, hundreds of cars were backed up in traffic on N.C. Highway 12, the sole link between the fragile barrier islands and the mainland.

Forecasters believe Hurricane Earl could strengthen into a Category 4 storm with winds of more than 130 miles an hour later today.

If it turns to the north later than expected, its eye would make landfall on the eastern tip of North Carolina -- and hurricane-force winds also could reach New York's Long Island and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Virginia's governor has declared a state of emergency as a precaution, letting the state position staff and resources ahead of time.

As far north as Maine, emergency officials are urging people to be ready.