Hurricane Arthur's projected path. / Renee Klarh, USA TODAY
NORFOLK, Va. - Hurricane Arthur has moved back over the Atlantic and is projected to remain well offshore this Fourth of July, after making landfall on the southern end of North Carolina's barrier islands Thursday with sustained winds up to 100 mph.
By 8 p.m. Friday, Arthur had weakened to Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds around 80 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. The storm was centered about 95 miles south-southwest of Chatham, Mass., and was moving northeast near 28 mph.
It is projected to be near or over western Nova Scotia early Saturday.
Tropical storm-force winds were expected in Nantucket and the Cape Cod in Massachusetts later Friday. Tropical storm warnings were discontinued for the Virginia coast and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
The storm proved far less damaging than feared in North Carolina. As of Friday morning, more than 41,000 customers were without power, State Emergency Operations spokesman Rick Martinez said. Carteret County had 11,000 outages, the most of any county, he said. No injuries or deaths were reported.
Gov. Pat McCrory pronounced the state's beaches "open for business." In a press briefing Friday, he said there has been minimal damage and things look 'quite good' throughout the coast.
On Hatteras Island, part of North Carolina Highway 12 was buckled in a spot that was breached in Hurricane Irene in 2011. Dozens of workers were heading to fix the highway, and the Department of Transportation said it was confident the road would reopen Saturday as long as an underwater sonar test of a key bridge showed no problems.
Farther up the East Coast Arthur has forced thousands of vacationers to reschedule Independence Day fireworks displays threatened by the storm.
As Arthur approached the Outer Banks as a Category 2 storm packing 100 mph winds on Thursday, the big question was how much beach erosion, downed power lines and wrecked holiday weekends will be left in its wake.
Jesse and Carol Wray rode out the storm in their home in Salvo on North Carolina Highway 12. They said the island was under several feet of water at the height of the storm. The 6-foot-tall lamppost at the end of their driveway was under water except for its top, and that was after the sound a quarter-mile away receded several feet.
"There's a lot of damage to a lot of houses around here," Wray said. "Everything flooded out. All the businesses are flooded, and there was a lot of wind damage."
While the Northeast wasn't expected to take a direct hit, the rain from Arthur's outer bands was disrupting the holiday. Fireworks displays in New Jersey and Maine were postponed until later in the weekend.
Arthur is the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. It is the earliest in the season a hurricane has made landfall in North Carolina.
Contributing: William M. Welch, USA TODAY; The Associated Press; Dustin Wilson, WCNC-TV, Charlotte, N.C.; Arrianee LeBeau and Karen Hopkins, WVEC-TV, Hampton-Norfolk, Va.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale categorizes storms based on their sustained wind speed and estimates property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 or higher are considered major storms because of their potential for significant loss of life and property damage.
â?¢ Category 1. 74 to 95 mph. Very dangerous winds will produce some damage. Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
â?¢ Category 2. 96 to 110 mph. Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage. Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last several days to weeks.
â?¢ Category 3. 111 to 129 mph. Devastating damage will occur. Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks afterward.
â?¢ Category 4. 130 to 156 mph. Catastrophic damage will occur. Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
â?¢ Category 5. 157 mph and higher. Catastrophic damage will occur. A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Source: National Hurricane Center
How some previous hurricanes rate
Hurricanes don't always have to be intense to cause a lot of damage. Here are five of the most damaging ones in the past 25 years.
â?¢ Katrina, 2005. Though it reached Category 5 over the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 28, 2005. Katrina made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 3 storm. It was the deadliest hurricane since September 1928, and at $75 billion in estimated damage, it became the most expensive U.S. hurricane.
â?¢ Ivan, 2004. Hurricane Ivan was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall Sept. 16, 2004, just west of Gulf Shores, Ala., producing more than 100 tornadoes and heavy rain across the Southeast. Part of it also re-entered the Atlantic, drifted south, became a tropical storm again and hit southwest Louisiana as a tropical depression on Sept. 24. It caused $14.2 billion in U.S. property damage, the third highest on record. In the United States, 25 people died.
â?¢ Isabelle, 2003. By the time Isabelle came ashore Sept. 18, 2003, near Drum Inlet along North Carolina's Outer Banks, it had become a tropical storm after reaching Category 5 status in the open ocean. But its storm surges of more than 8 feet made it the worst storm to hit the Chesapeake Bay region since 1933 with 17 deaths and more than $3 billion in damage.
â?¢ Floyd, 1999. Though this storm touched land Sept. 16, 1999, near Cape Fear, N.C., as a Category 2 hurricane, it is most remembered for its rainfall: more than 19 inches in Wilmington, N.C., almost 14 inches in Brewster, N.Y. In the U.S., 56 people died; the floods caused as much as $6 billion in damage.
â?¢ Andrew, 1992. When Hurricane Andrew made landfall in south Florida on Aug. 24, 1992, it was a Category 4 storm. It crossed the Gulf and hit the central Louisiana coast Aug. 26 as a Category 3 hurricane. Total U.S. damage was $26.5 billion, second highest on record; 26 died in the USA and the Bahamas.
Source: National Hurricane Center
Read the original story: Hurricane Arthur weakens to Category 1