Hurricane Earl was downgraded from a powerful Category 4 to Category 3 Thursday afternoon, but remained a dangerous storm with sustained winds near 125 mph.
Evacuations were ordered Wednesday for Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands in the Outer Banks. North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell have declared a state of emergency.
The center's forecast map shows Earl tracking northeast after brushing North Carolina, coming close to New England late Friday.
Meanwhile the Coast Guard emphasizes boating and paddling safety during the Labor Day Weekend, which is one of the busiest boating weekends on the water of the year.
With Hurricane Earl forecasted to affect the New England area this weekend, boaters should carefully monitor the storm's progress and heed all associated warnings. The National Weather Service regularly broadcasts marine weather forecasts and current storm advisories.
Forecasts can be heard by tuning in to weather channels on a VHF marine radio or by checking the National Weather Service website at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/.