East Coast States Brace for Earl's Landfall

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Hurricane Earl has weakend off the East Coast, but is still a dangerous Category 3 storm, sparking a series of hurricane warnings in North Carolina, Virginia and the tip of Massachusetts.

The storm is the most powerful hurricane to threaten the region in several years, packing winds near 115 mph.

Click play for the latest on Hurricane Earl's progress with AccuWeather.com meteorologist Jim Kosek, followed by CBN News Reporter Efrem Graham's update from the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Tens of thousands of tourists and residents have been asked to leave North Carolina's Barrier Islands. Homeowners are also preparing for the worst as weather conditions are expected to deteriorate throughout the day.

Residents of the Outer Banks who have chosen to ride out the storm in their homes have been told to plan for the possibility of being cut off from the mainland for as many as three days.

The storm's forecasted path is called the "cone of uncertainty" for a reason. Earl could pass anywhere between 60 to 90 miles off North Carolina's Outer Banks.

The storm's first encounter with the mainland is expected around midnight. Wind gusts of 100-miles-per-hour and a storm surge of several feet are expected.

"We could see watches and warnings continue to move up the East Coast," said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The governors of North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland have all declared emergencies.

"There have been times when people have sworn to us that it's not going to touch us, and within three hours it's right on top of us," said Gov. Beverly Perdue, D-N.C.

Earl is expected to follow the East Coast as it moves north.

It has been nearly 20 years since a major hurricane has threatened New England. In Massachusetts, people are taking their boats out of the water.

"You just do the smart thing," boater Stephen Howard said. "Get the boat out. Get it on ground and weather the storm."

American Red Cross officials in New York are preparing to open dozens of shelters on Long Island, which can house up to 60,000 people if necessary.

"We've already sent out an alert message via telephone to our residents alerting them to the steps that we're taking, reminding them of the storm and to start putting away any kind of loose objects that can blow around and become hazards," Belmar, N.Y. Mayor Ken Pringle said.

Emergency officials said the best advice they can offer residents within Earl's reach is to be prepared.

Are you prepared for an emergency? September is National Preparedness Month. Find out what you should do to be prepared. 

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.