RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Hurricane Earl has weakened to a Category 1 storm as it heads for the Northeast.
Hurricane-force winds, which start at 74 mph, apparently did not reach the Outer Banks, the National Hurricane Center's chief forecaster James Franklin said.
"We still think it will be a hurricane when it passes by Cape Cod," Franklin said. Large swells from Earl will stir up dangerous surf and rip currents along the East Coast, even from far out at sea, the center said.
There were scattered power outages throughout Dare County and Hyde County officials said 90% of the county is reporting outages. The Dominion Power Website outage map showed several thousand people without power Friday morning.
Spokesman Chuck Penn told WVEC.com that the company expects to have all known outages in NC and Va restored between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. Friday.
"For those residents and visitors who took heed to the mandatory evacuation and will be returning and discovering that they don’t have power and will be calling their outages in, we will have their power restored as well later this evening," Penn stated.
By 12:30 p.m., all power had been restored to Ocracoke Island.
North Carolina's governor says the state's Outer Banks appears to have avoided serious damage or injuries as Hurricane Earl blew past.
Gov. Bev Perdue said survey teams are fanning out to check whether erosion from the waves churned up by the storm caused any property damage between the Oregon Inlet and the Virginia border. Communities there include Kitty Hawk, Corolla and Duck.
Currituck County reopened at 11:00 a.m. after evacuating tourists Thursday morning; tourists were allowed into the county beginning at noon. Tthe mandatory evacuation order was lifted for areas north of Oregon Inlet including the Towns of Duck, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Manteo, Nags Head, Southern Shores and the unincorporated areas of Dare County north of Oregon Inlet.
The area in southern Duck at the intersection of NC 12 (Duck Road) and the Tuckahoe subdivision was flooded, covering at least one lane of NC 12. Water was expected to subside when the rain ends later Friday morning.
Transportation Department engineer Jerry Jennings said Friday the sand is as deep as 3 feet on some stretches of N.C. Highway 12in Rodanthe, a village on Hatteras Island. The Bonner Bridge wasn't due to open until Saturday.
The mandatory evacuation order for Hatteras Island remains in effect due to sand and standing water on NC Highway 12. Villages affected by the continuation of this evacuation order include Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras.
13News crews found a canopy that had blown to the ground at a Shell gas station in Nags Head. Some power lines were down and there was minor flooding.
Some fences were blown over and a few people were finding debris in their yards, but overall, residents took the storm in stride.
"You own beachfront property, you have to take risks with it and I guess I was going to go down with my house if my house was going down," said Lory Patrick.
There were no reports of injuries early Friday morning.
Perdue says the beaches and businesses south of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands are open.
She says the state was prepared to handle thousands of people in shelters, but it was unclear Friday morning how many people took refuge in the shelters as the storm passed.
"We dodged a bullet, purely and simply North Carolina dodged a bullet. We are glad that that bullet is out of our state for the most part. The good news s also is this Viper communication system we put in place with local law enforcement really worked. This was our first emergency test of the system and the fact that everybody can talk to each other we learned," Gov. Perdue said.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)