As Hurricane Arthur took aim at the Outer Banks Thursday, thousands of residents and vacationers headed to safety in Central Virginia.
For the multitude of motorists who jammed the interstates, most came from the same place – Hatteras Island. Police issued a mandatory evacuation order for visitors and residents, with an estimated 35,000 people leaving the barrier island.
Dozens of tourists including Virginia resident Deana Kolan attempted to ride out the storm, but police went door to door Thursday checking that all people had left the hotels.
"We bought Oreos and Coca Cola and were ready to camp out," said Kolan in an interview Thursday. "We picked the room and last night after dinner, they said, ‘5:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, you have to be out.'"
Visitor centers along I-64 West in New Kent were filled with cars and trucks carrying kids, kayaks, and coolers, as many Fourth of July weekends were abruptly cut short.
"This was our first time being evacuated from Hatteras," said tourist Adrienne Prentice in an interview Thursday. "My family came from Daytona Beach, Knoxville, all over, and we all met in Hatteras."
Although their numbers paled in comparison to the families fleeing Arthur, some vacationers continued towards the coast, determined to settle in Thursday night, and enjoy the weekend after the storm passed.
"We're from up north, and we had the Polar Vortex," said traveler Lauren Williams. "This is going to be my little boy's first time seeing the ocean, so we're going to check into our Virginia Beach hotel, hunker down, and have a safe night with our family."
For the Richmond area, rain is forecasted to leave Central Virginia by mid-morning Friday. Coastal areas may see some lingering rain and gusty winds through midday or early afternoon.
Scattered heavy rain producing storms will be possible overnight through the early-morning hours. Parts of our area are under a flash flood watch until 6:00 a.m. Friday.
1"-2" of rainfall are possible and with higher local totals possible. Bay counties should prepare for 25-40 mph winds with some higher gusts into the early weekend.
Hurricane Arthur is expected to produce gale force winds on Hatteras Island by 8:00 p.m. Thursday and on the northern Dare County beaches by 10:00 p.m.
Hurricane force winds develop on Hatteras Island by 1:00 a.m. Friday and on the northern beaches by 2:30 a.m.
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