Va. emergency workers eyeing Tropical Storm Arthur

Posted at 6:04 PM, Jul 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-02 18:30:09-04

Arthur could cause holiday havoc.

The tropical storm churning up the East Coast might be at its most dangerous Thursday, when Arthur is expected to skirt the North Carolina coast.

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Generic

CLICK HERE: Use the CBS 6 Hurricane Tracker to track the storm

The storm is causing problems farther north, too. Officials said Wednesday afternoon that the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, normally held on July 4, will be moved to Thursday because of the potential for bad weather.

Arthur's Impact on RVA

In fact, the storm moved the RVA Fireworks on the James from Thursday to Saturday, July 5.

However, Tom Topinka with Genworth Financial said they haven't pulled the plug on the annual Independence day celebration set for Thursday.

"I'm looking at it as a 30 percent chance of no rain," said Topinka.

The concert and fireworks display has been around for more than two decades and draws thousands to Henrico county.

"The band will decide whether or not the concert goes on. It's their equipment and we'll decide tomorrow evening at the time of the concert," said Topinka.

Before Tropical Storm Arthur even makes it near North Carolina's Outer Banks and Hampton roads - state agencies are closely monitoring the weather conditions.

For now, Richmond and the surrounding counties are not in the storm's direct path, but Virginia Department of Emergency Management's Dawn Eischen is warning folks to take precautions at the beaches this holiday weekend.

"Rip currents are very dangerous," Eischen said.

Eischen told CBS 6 that if you are planning to go out into the water while you're at the beach during the time that the storm is coming through, you could potentially be pulled under.

"Typically, lifeguards are very well aware of that. And they will make sure people aren't out there during that time," said Eischen. "But of course, not every place has a lifeguard, so people need to be aware of that."

And depending on the storm's impact, Eischen said VDEM is on standby in case North Carolina's Outer Banks or Hampton roads decides to evacuate residents.

"There's the normal evacuation where people use the designated routes. And then, there's the lane reversal plan. And that's where reverse traffic on Interstate 64 between Hampton roads and the Richmond area," said Eischen.

Richmond and the surrounding counties would provide a number of shelters for those evacuees at local centers and the state would activate additional shelters at the Universities like VCU to handle the overflow of people.

Arthur Expected to Become Hurricane

Arthur is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane off the North Carolina coast on Thursday, and although the eye might not hit land, the storm could create dangerous rip currents that day along the Outer Banks and the Pamlico Sound, forecasters said.

North Carolina's governor has a message to those who plan to hit the beaches the day before the Fourth of July: Stay out of the ocean.

"I don't want you to put at risk not only yourself but also people who may try to help you, especially our emergency operation workers," Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday.

"Don't put your stupid hat on," McCrory said at the New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center, according to CNN affiliate WWAY.

Some vacationers at Southern Shores, North Carolina, said they weren't too worried.

"We've been coming down here for 20 years," said Jim Stafford of Greenville, Pennsylvania, as he stood in front of the beachfront house where he's staying. "We'll just see what happens."

When asked if he was taking any precautions, Stafford said he planned to fill up the gas tank on his car "just in case."

Arthur should hit hurricane strength just off the southern Outer Banks on Thursday, with sustained winds above 73 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Strong winds could push water to the point where the underwater sandbars in front of North Carolina's beaches break, creating rip currents that would rush swimmers out to sea, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

"There's no time for you to react. That's why you can't be there at all," Myers said, describing a danger area from Wilmington north to Nag's Head.

"This is not a landfall-problem hurricane. This is a rip-current-problem hurricane," he added.

Fourth of July Impact 

As for Independence Day, the storm could send rain to the Washington area during the day, but it shouldn't spoil most of Friday night's festivities as it veers away from land.

Storm clouds on Arthur's coattails might throw rain on Washington's Independence Day parade about noon Friday.

But after sundown, Washington's skies should be mostly clear. Much of the East Coast could share in the good conditions late Friday.

Arthur looks like it will spare Friday night's colossal fireworks show on Washington's National Mall, weather forecasters say, as the storm is expected to move quickly out of range.

PBS is planning to broadcast the pyrotechnics blossoming over the Reflecting Pool live via 20 cameras.

Those wet roads

In Boston, officials said there's a chance of rain Thursday so the city's music-and-fireworks event might not happen that day either, reported CNN affiliate WCVB.

The fireworks could be rescheduled but not the concert by the Boston Pops, State Police Col. Timothy Alben said, according to WCVB.

"The rain is a factor for the orchestra," event organizer Rich MacDonald told the television station. "If the rain is coming down hard enough that it is coming down into the Hatch Shell then it affects the instruments and these instruments are valuable and old."

Arthur could trigger the wrong kinds of bangs and booms on the roads leading up to the Fourth. It is the busiest week of summer travel, according to AAA.

Most of those travelers will be going by car right around the time eastern U.S. roads will get soaked.

"They are potentially staring down the barrel of a loaded gun," AAA spokeswoman Yolanda Cade said.

Florida fireworks

Still a tropical storm Wednesday afternoon, Arthur was slowly creeping north off Florida's northern Atlantic coast, dumping rain there, the weather service said.

With maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, it was approaching hurricane strength.

The same Florida coast might be an ideal place to spend July Fourth, as Arthur should be far away from there by Friday and fireworks will burst over the beaches from Key West to Jacksonville.

By late Saturday, Arthur will be gone from the U.S. coast, providing mostly pleasant weekend weather from Florida to Maine.