2010: Earl's Timing Is Terrible

The menace of Hurricane Earl comes at a bad time for any of the vacation-starved Americans who are heading to parts of the East Coast this Labor Day weekend.

Visions of a worry-free last holiday break of the summer have given way to concerns about powerful winds and relentless rain, at least through Friday.

"It's terrible timing for Labor Day," said CNN meteorologist Angela Fritz. "It's not going to be nice vacation weather anywhere from South Carolina up through Maine."

Hurricane Earl will make its closest pass to the Outer Banks of North Carolina around sunrise on Friday morning and will come close to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the outlying islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard Friday evening, forecasters said.

Rip currents and dangerous surf will threaten beach- goers all along the East Coast.

Not exactly the perfect formula for the start of a vacation.

Hurricane warnings are already in place over a large portion of the North Carolina coast and mandatory evacuation orders are in effect for some of the barrier islands.

Tourists in the Outer Banks, a popular Labor Day destination, were nervous about the approaching storm.

"We might not be here the whole week," Scott Schmidt, who came with his family from New York, told CNN affiliate WRAL. "The kids are dying. We're here on vacation. They can't even go in the water."

"I'm a chicken. I really am," said Sandra Haduck, who goes on an Outer Banks fishing trip every year, according to the station. "If things start to get really bad, I'd leave."

Visitors who have booked a hotel in the region in the coming days and have questions or concerns should contact the property directly for the most up-to-date information, advised Lee Nettles, managing director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.

It was too soon to estimate hurricane-related vacancies, he added.

There hasn't been "a flood" of cancellations so far, said Janice Farr, senior vice president of Sun Realty, which manages more than 1,200 vacation homes in the region. She expects 70 percent occupancy, which is typical of the weekend. Most Labor Day guests will check in on Saturday, after the storm passes, Farr added.

"I fully expect that it's going to be a beautiful weekend for Labor Day weekend coming up, so I don't think the incoming guests are going to be inconvenienced terribly much," Farr said.

Nettles also has a positive outlook for the holiday.

"I'm ever the optimist. I think we'll come through it," he said.

"It's a fast-moving storm and the forecasts are good afterward, so it's not like it will be sitting on us for any length of time. We're pretty resilient folks on the Outer Banks, so I'm optimistic that we'll bounce back quickly and still have a good weekend."

As the hurricane moves north later Friday, a direct hit on Cape Cod is not expected, but there is the potential for hurricane-force winds, high surf, power outages and heavy rain over the area.

Still, tourism officials in the region said few visitors concerned about the storm have called so far. They also didn't foresee a large number of cancellations.

"People come here to do more than swim," said Michele Pecoraro, vice president of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.

"Chances are we'll have some rain on Friday and a beautiful weekend. Even if the storm is whipping up the ocean you can still visit, you can ... go to shops, visit the town centers."

But residents and tourists in the region were urged to create a plan to evacuate if necessary, said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Not the type of Labor Day weekend activity most travelers imagined when they booked their relaxing vacation.

-- CNN's Marnie Hunter contributed to this report.

TM & © 2010 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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  • by T Sanders Location: Greenville on Sep 3, 2010 at 08:22 AM
    Can someone tell me if God made the storm, Who or what made God, or we not suppose to ask that Question?
  • by BLESSED Location: Greenville,nc on Sep 3, 2010 at 05:34 AM
    Yes, I agree with sutto.People go crazy over worldly things.They never thank God for the blessings they have. People should slow down and smell the roses. GOD IS NATURE.He controls the storms and everything.God makes no mistakes. Be happy to be alive. Not mad that you can't have a vacation, partying, getting drunk,or high.Don't be so selfish.
  • by melvin on Sep 3, 2010 at 05:17 AM
    I am glad some people can afford vacations and be able to spend money. I live in eastern nc and cannot afford to even drive to the beach let alone stay in some fancy beach house. Poor things, it is just ashame that they cannot finish their vacations.
  • by Dave on Sep 2, 2010 at 03:21 PM
    Sounds like a blessing for surfers. people in this area know what to expect its a part of life here and it will continue to be. dont make this such a big deal storms come and go and people know the risks. Live life and enjoy it while you can. I personally am not leaving the area and dont care what the world throws at me sounds like a rush and some fun for me on a long weekend. besides the weather is supposed to be nice saturday on so the weather will be nice when i am picking up at least
  • by hey Location: nc on Sep 2, 2010 at 08:27 AM
    Vic, what is your problem, you're the one who needs to wake up.
  • by Vic Location: new bern on Sep 2, 2010 at 05:30 AM
    Those comments are ridiculous. On one hand you have a an obvious pleading for money to be spent willy-nilly on vacations and tourism type junk, and on the other you have people talking about God's will that this storm is coming? All i can say is wow, this is a storm of nature that happens year after year with no real major problems on most occasions, yet its 'Gods will' that its coming and not making landfall?!?!?! This forum is about weather, so lets keep it there instead of spewing non-sense about a topic that automatically leads to fighting and arguing. Religion and irresponsible monetary habits are what has largely gotten us into the mess we are in today with regards to our economy and relationship with the world. Religion sure is a good thing when it has directly caused so many people to kill one another when we are all inhabitants of this powerful, yet beautiful planet we call earth. This world is doomed, and it has less to do with natural disasters than you think. WAKE UP!
  • by Terry Location: Newport News on Sep 1, 2010 at 07:51 PM
    Earl's Timing is Terrible? Is there really a good time for a hurricane? I hope that everything goes well and I am a nervous wreck because my 9 month pregnant daughter lives down there and won't leave. I am praying that Earl will stay way out in the ocean. I know you folks can deal with the rain and wind. I will pray for everyone to be safe.
  • by BYOS on Sep 1, 2010 at 05:15 PM
    Bring Your Own Surfboard....come on down, surfers! The waves are breaking like Hawaii on a calm day. They might try to turn you away at the bridges...just tell them you live there and you need a few things from your house that you forgot.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2010 at 03:49 PM
    It's going to be pretty this weekend. COME SPEND YOUR MONEY! Happy Labor Day.
  • by sutto Location: Pamlico on Sep 1, 2010 at 02:32 PM
    I am sorry but not having a vacation is not a tragedy. No one is going to perish if they don't get to go to Eastern NC. Please. I agree with the person named "Hey". God's timing is never terrible, he is always on time. Be ready for anything.
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