Hurricane Earl's powerful gusts and driving rains are churning over the Outer Banks of North Carolina and starting to be felt in southeastern Virginia.
National Weather Service meterologist Jeremy Schulz said early this morning that rain bands stretched about 140 miles inland in North Carolina and up to the southern tip of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.
Sustained winds of about 30 mph were whipping the North Carolina coast. The U.S. Coast Guard station at Hatteras reported a gust of 67 mph just before midnight.
One portion of N.C. Highway 12 in Rodanthe was closed because of ocean overwash. Local officials hoped to have it clear by daybreak.
Earl had weakened Thursday but even its edges were packing powerful winds as it heads up the Eastern Seaboard Friday.
THE ABOVE IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
BUXTON - Hurricane Earl scooted past the North Carolina Outer Banks in the dark of night, leaving residents and officials waiting for daybreak to see how much damage the storm's winds and waves could do.
Earl weakened all day Thursday, winding down from a Category 4 storm with winds of 140 mph to a Category 2 with winds at 105.
But the storm still packed enough of a punch to send rain sideways and shake signs on the Outer Banks. On Nags Head, the tops of small trees bent in the howling gusts and beach grass was whipping back and forth on dunes leading to the ocean.
The Coast Guard plans a flyover at first light Friday to access damage and rescue people if necessary.
It was the start of at least 24 hours of stormy, windy weather along the East Coast.