Earl is being touted as a monster of a hurricane.  Residents along the east coast are bracing for the storm’s arrival.  It’s expected that high winds and water will begin lashing the Outer Banks of North Carolina tonight.

The President signed a disaster declaration for the state of North Carolina Wednesday evening.  This will allow FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts in the state, and to free up needed federal funds.

The National Hurricane Center predicts that this large and powerful Category 4 hurricane will skim the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Thursday night, then head towards New England. Its unexpected westward shift has brought it much closer to Cape Hatteras than previously anticipated.

All visitors to Dare County North Carolina have been issued a mandatory evacuation order. Some areas, such as South Nags Head and Hatteras Island, have issued evacuations for residents as well. Schools and county offices have been closed for the remainder of the week.

Earl has winds of 145 mph, with gusts up to 175. Due to the magnificent size of the storm, the effect it has on the coast could be large – even without a direct hit on land.

Hurricane warnings have been issued from coastal North Carolina to the Virginia state line. New Jersey can expect to see Earl on Friday afternoon, as it decreases to a Category 2 hurricane. The expected track will continue to take it up the east coast as it gradually weakens.