TODAY   |  September 03, 2010

Hurricane Earl is ‘near miss’ in N. Carolina

With the eye of the downgraded category 2 hurricane 85 miles offshore, damage and flooding have been minimal. TODAY’s Al Roker and The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore report from N.C. and The Weather Channel’s Julie Martin reports from Ocean City, Md.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> nice to start with what seems like some good news. good morning. welcome to "today" on a friday morning, i'm matt lauer .

>> and i'm ann curry in for meredith. tgif and earl has arrived.

>> the storm is lashing the coast of north carolina and virg virginia, but fortunately the eye is still about 85 miles offshore, earl with top winds of 105 miles per hour was downgraded to a category 2 from a 4 overnight. so far the storm surge has been minor. the flooding, we understand, is minimal.

>> cape cod and nantucket are still in its sights and expected to get hurricane force winds later today .

>> we've got this storm covered all up and down the east coast this morning. let's start with al roker in kill devil hills on the outer banks of north carolina . al, good morning. what's going on?

>> hey, guys, i tell you, this is -- this is a near miss. if this had been right on point, it would have been a mess for us. right now, we've got wind gusts of over 70 miles per hour and it's a sand-driven, wind-driven rain that is just really brutal. we have had reports of flooding. we still have power throughout good portions of the outer banks right now. a lot of people are really, really excited about the fact that this could have been much worse. it's downgraded in its size and power. right now, we do have hurricane warnings in effect still for the northern half of the coastline of north carolina . we also have tropical storm watches and warnings all the way up to new england . hurricane warnings for parts of new england as well. the big problem is going to be the storm surge . not so much the rain. it's going to be the storm surge , anywhere from two to four feet of storm surge , some areas picking up five feet of storm surge , but make no mistake, rainfall is still going to be an issue. we're talking about rain that could be anywhere from two to four to six inches, some areas picking up seven to ten inches of rain, especially as you get up to new england . this system will be traveling up along the coast, and by later tonight it's along the maryland coast and by tomorrow, it is threatening new england . but right now, here for the outer banks , the good news is it's staying offshore. but, again, we've got a lot of rain, a lot of wind. people have heeded the warnings and people who needed to evacuate have evacuated and most people tonight are safe. it's still a ways before emergency service vehicles and rescue units will go out to assess the damage but right now the worst, it looks like we missed the worse but still have a few more hours to be battered by this system as it makes its way up the coast.

>> all right, al. this is all relative, obviously. he's getting battered pretty good down there. this is the better scenario we had expected. now 50 miles to the south, jim cantore is in cape hatteras . jim, how is it down there?

>> reporter: it's rough down here, too, matt. we've had about eight straight hours of sustained tropical force winds, gust at 78 miles an hour. our winds are out of the north, right up across highway 12 here. you can actually see it here. hatteras ferry landing and at times you get the oversplash. as the winds die down, we'll see this debris. we don't know how much of highway 12 is covered with water. we made an attempt to get out to get some pictures before the sun came up but we couldn't get very far at all, maybe a couple of hundred yards but that was about it before we ran into water that was coming up to our tire, so we obviously turned back. the situation here should improve until the water recedes. we didn't lose power during the entire event and may, for many of the business owners and people who had vacation plans here this weekend, salvage part of the weekend if it's not that bad and there is no breach. vacationers may get back in here