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THE SITUATION ROOM

Hurricane Arthur Lashes North Carolina

Aired July 3, 2014 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Jake. Happening now.

Breaking news, Hurricane Arthur growing stronger and more dangerous by the minute, churning up the East Coast, about to slam into North Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This storm does not have to cause loss of life if people get ready now.

KEILAR (voice-over): Tonight, evacuations are underway for thousands amid dire warnings about storm surges and deadly rip currents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want people to mess around with this hurricane.

KEILAR: Flooding fears. Officials stress it could be a dangerous Fourth of July holiday for many on the East Coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could see 2 to 4 feet of water above normally dry ground.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We have breaking news. Hurricane Arthur arriving. The storm is already lashing the North Carolina coast with heavy rain and winds up to 90 miles per hour. Here are the latest developments.

Storm surges up to five feet are expected, with deadly rip currents offshore, dangerous flooding inland. Isolated tornados are also possible along the outer bands of the storm, and a tornado watch is up for parts of eastern North Carolina.

Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate vulnerable barrier islands, and many more are strongly urged to do so. Our correspondents are standing by in the hurricane zone from Wrightsville Beach, up the coast to Kill Devil Hills with the kind of coverage that only CNN can deliver.

We're going to begin with the latest forecast, so let's go straight now to CNN meteorologist and severe weather expert, Chad Myers. What are you seeing, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Brianna, we'd hope the 5 p.m. advisory would take it down to a Category 1 hurricane this evening, but they still go Category 2. One-hundred-mile-per-hour storm, now slamming Cape Fear right there, the eye of the storm, well-defined and completely clear, which means the storm is still getting bigger.

One of our correspondents right there, Alina Machado. That's Wilmington right there. That would be Grant City. And here, and another Nags Head. So all three reporters in the way of this storm. All three may, in fact, get the eye wall tonight, and that eye wall may include 100-mile-per-hour winds.

It moves along the coast. And this is the problem: prolonged wind coming onshore of 100 miles per hour, scouring the beach, taking out homes, of course, taking out roads for sure, and then as this storm goes by, the winds come from the other side at about 100 miles per hour, on the backside of the eye. So this is a one-two punch along that North Carolina coast. The southeast Carolina coast.

By morning, now we're talking again, the parts of the east here, we're talking Nags Head and also that little peninsula that we talk about, called the Outer Banks. That's not until tomorrow morning.

So now we still have at least 12 hours of pounding surf in these regions before it heads up to Atlantic Canada, maybe even getting toward the Bay of Fundy, up into Nova Scotia and into Newfoundland. There's the storm on the satellite. It's still gaining strength. Usually, when they get close to shore, they start to die off. This one, not so much. Still very warm water where it's at right now.

KEILAR: And Chad, you mentioned Alina Machado. Let's get to her. She is in Wrightsville Beach, which is near Wilmington, as Chad said. Alina, tell us what you're seeing.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, as you can see, it is very, very windy here. And this is what we have been seeing now for several hours. It started off slow here, but right now, the wind, the wind gusts are strong. The rain has died down just a bit, but we have had heavy downpours at times. But very steady for several hours, and really, Brianna, the good news here, at least, is that for the most part, people have heeded the warnings. They've stayed out of the water in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and officials here hope that that stays that way, because conditions here are only expected to worsen -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Alina, thank you so much. And let's move along the coast to go live now to CNN's Rene Marsh. She is in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Tell us the scene there, Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, take a look, Brianna. We can tell you, things have changed over the last couple of hours. The wind's definitely picking up, and we do notice that we're seeing a lot of rough surf here. The tide is even coming a little higher, because we were standing here just a second ago, and this wasn't happening. The bottom of my jeans are now getting wet. Take a look at that sign there, no lifeguard on duty. So if you

are out here, which I'm happy to say, we don't see anywhere in the water at this moment, but if you are out here, you are definitely swimming at your own risk.

All right. Well, so back out here live. I want to really set the scene. Let's take a look over here...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go! Go!

MACHADO: I want to -- I want to set the scene for you guys. Take a look here. You can see that there is actually no one in the water at this moment, which is good, because earlier today, just a matter of hours ago, we saw those red flags going out.

As we speak to you, we feel that the rain is coming down a lot heavier and the wind is blowing. If you look over there, you see just a couple of people on the sand, making their way possibly to their hotel. You always have situations like this, where you have people who are just very curious, and they want to come out here.

But the good news, Brianna, like I said, no one in the water. But this is just the beginning, because what we're really expecting is heavier rain, stronger winds. I would say roughly another five hours from now. And as we speak, we can feel at least one of those bands coming in on us, because now it's starting to come down. But, again, we're really expecting the heavy stuff roughly another six hours from now -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, we've heard that rain increase, Rene, just as we've been talking to you here in the last couple of minutes.

Let's go back now to Wrightsville Beach. Mark Ledford is joining us on the phone. He is the facilities manager at the Shell Island resort there in Wrightsville Beach. Give us a sense, Mark, of what you are seeing from your vantage point.

MARK LEDFORD, FACILITIES MANAGER, SHELL ISLAND RESORT (via phone): We're starting to see the water come up a little further. The -- a lot of wind is picking up, and we're expecting it to get more windy. So we've taken our precautions.

KEILAR: And what about your guests there at the resort? What -- are they hanging tight or are they waiting to weather this?

LEDFORD: The guests are hanging tight. They're -- actually seem to be having a good time. They're ready to wait it out, and they're just kind of hanging out.

KEILAR: Are they -- what kind of precautions have you taken, and have you made any recommendations to them?

LEDFORD: Well, first thing, we made sure that all of our stuff that's loose outside on the ground, we've put them inside and locked it down. Made sure we didn't have anything, flying projectiles. Made sure their guests close their sliding glass doors and stay away from those doors when it gets real windy and made sure that our alarm systems were working correctly and our intercom system was working correctly.

KEILAR: Did you have anyone put off their trip to stay at your resort, or do you have them even coming out yesterday and staying through the weekend, just weathering the storm?

LEDFORD: Yes, most of them are staying through the weekend. We had a lot of check-ins, actually, today. And they were still coming in around 4 p.m. I think they're ready to ride out the storm and hopefully have a good rest of the weekend.

KEILAR: So, when you, obviously -- and you're familiar with this. What happens to tourism in the area? There must be some people who decide to put off visits, obviously. Restaurants, folks aren't going to those as much. What do you see happen? How big of a hit is it on the weekend where the Outer Banks and the surrounding area are expecting almost a quarter million visitors?

LEDFORD: I'm sure the Outer Banks is going to be -- they're going to be hurting worse than we are here at Wrightsville Beach, but for the most part, here at Wrightsville Beach, I think we're going to have a busy weekend still.

OK. It sounds like at this point, you're just getting ready, hunkering down. People are hoping for that storm to pass, and we certainly hope the best for you and that there's really a limited storm surge. Thanks so much, Mark Ledford there in Wrightsville Beach.

And let's talk now to Bill Blair. He is the mayor of Wrightsville Beach. He's joining us now on the phone.

And talk to us a little bit, if you will, about sort of what you're seeing, what you are telling your residents, and how you're urging them to stay safe.

BILL BLAIR, MAYOR, WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH: Well, right now, we're kind of between rain bands. It's pretty windy, pretty rainy. We're kind of lucky, because it's low tide, so it doesn't lack like we'll have a lot of beach erosion. It looks like, to us, that the storm's going to move out pretty quickly, and as the Shell Island folks said, it looks like we're going to have a pretty good weekend. We hope it's out of here within the next six to eight hours.

KEILAR: But that's really the concern, right? When you're looking, especially farther up the coast, the tide. It may be low now for you, but as the tide gets higher in certain areas and we see this storm coming onshore, that's really what you're looking out for when you're seeing storms coming toward you in the Outer Banks and that surrounding area, right?

BLAIR: Yes. Landfall with a high tide is not a great combination, and the fact that we have an outgoing tide right now is a big benefit to the beach. KEILAR: So I want to ask you, because you're also very familiar,

I'm sure, you're probably studying and waiting to hear what the updates are on what category this is. Category 1 now, could come to a Category 2. And you're looking at the damage that is expected between a Category 1 and a Category 2, it's a significant jump. Are you more concerned if this is a Category 2?

BLAIR: If this storm were to slow down in a Category 2, you would see a significant difference in damage, especially on the loss of sand and beach erosion. It would be much more significant than a Category 2, at a slower space, yes.

KEILAR: And are you hearing any concerns from residents? Are you feeling that you're very much in touch with the state and with federal authorities and you're getting all the resources you need?

BLAIR: Yes, we've got -- we have everybody out today, all our public safety guys, ocean rescue. We're fully prepared for -- if the storm were to get worse here, we're fully -- we haven't declared a state of emergency, and the state is aware of everything we're doing, but we feel like we're in pretty good shape. We've been through this many times before, and the residents are used to this sort of activity, so we're pretty prepared.

KEILAR: All right, Mayor, thanks so much for talking to us here at CNN. Really appreciate it.

BLAIR: Brianna, thank you.

KEILAR: And next, another vulnerable barrier island town is bracing for the worst from Hurricane Arthur. We will take you live to Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: As we speak, Hurricane Arthur is lashing the North Carolina coast. It is currently gaining in intensity. Let's get the very latest from Chad Myers, CNN meteorologist and severe weather expert.

What are we seeing, Chad?

MYERS: Well, we're seeing the eye itself getting very close to Cape Fear. There is the northern eye wall right there. Here's Cape Fear at the very low point. There's Lure (ph) Beach right there. And there's our Wrightsville Beach, right there.

Let me show you the difference, what it looks like, just being about ten miles closer to the eye. Here's our shot from Wrightsville Beach. Waves are high. You can see the breakers way out, about, I'd say, that's at least 300, 400 yards out to sea.

People are still walking around, winds at about 45 to 50 miles per hour. They're legs are getting sandblasted, I guarantee you, at that kind of wind speed. But take you just down the beach, a little bit closer to the eye,

this is what our SurfChecks.com camera looks like. Just shaking winds, 65 or 70 miles per hour, literally white conditions at times.

This is the beach right there. Hard to distinguish the water from the sand. Someone trying to get out of the way of that wind right there, the waves just absolute foam. And all we're talking about is ten miles. The difference between that point there and that point there on our map.

Here is the story with the hurricane right now. A visible eye. The best eye we've seen all day, meteorologically, the worst eye for the people that live there or that are vacationing there. Because that means the storm is still getting stronger. Still breathing, still bringing in air at the surface, releasing it up through the eye wall and blowing it out as cirrus clouds across the storm itself.

This is how a hurricane gets bigger. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. And that's what's going on with this storm right now. It's eventually going to link up with a cold front and push it out to sea, but that's going to take a while.

By tomorrow night, Boston, you're going to get an awful lot of rain as the storm approaches you.

We're also going to see significant storm surge. The main sea level is going to be high in about six hours. They're at low tide now. It's going to be high tide then. This is bad news, as the high tide comes in, and at least another three to four feet of storm surge, it will take that water right up on the beach, right into the sea marsh, right into the sea oat grass, right above and on top of the roadways in many places around North Carolina.

Believe it or not, there have been three Arthurs, three, because they don't retire names unless it's a bad storm. 1996, June, there's Arthur right there. What's that? That's North Carolina.

Now let's switch you ahead, because they recycle them every six years. Here's July 2002, guess what, that's Arthur.

Now we go to this year, and that is a much more sinister storm, 2014. We didn't get one six years ago, but three Arthurs in the same place? That's a little weird.

KEILAR: All right. North Carolina all too familiar with Arthur and this one looking, as we heard, to be a mean one. Chad Myers, thank you so much.

And I want to go now to Petty Officer Tim Burns of the U.S. Coast Guard. He's joining us on the phone now from the Hatteras inlet station. Tell us a little bit. One of the issues here for you, right, is that, as we move towards a higher tide, and Hatteras is certainly looking right in the path of this, there must be some concern there?

PETTY OFFICER TIM BURNS, U.S. COAST GUARD (via phone): Yes, ma'am, it is. High tide actually is forecasted or predicted tomorrow morning around 12:30 in the morning. And based on the current track of the storm, as I've been saying, that's kind of when it's supposed to hit. So something to take very seriously as far as being out and about and, you know, staying off the beaches and staying safe.

KEILAR: And what does that mean for you, in terms of storm surge and really compounding the problem of what you would see from flooding?

BURNS: Well, specifically in Hatteras, because it's such a low- lying area, you're going to see a lot of potential over-wash from the beach, you know, overtaking the roads, just making it very hazardous to just travel by -- by car.

So, again, the proximity to the water, I mean, we're so close with the sand dunes, you know, just on the other side of the roads there, so it's going to be pretty hazardous. Advise everyone to just stay safe and stay inside and definitely away from the beach. And it's always kind of interesting to see people kind of get out and see the storm, but the one thing that gets people off guard is the strong storm surge and the unpredictability of the waves. So again, just telling people to stay off the beach and stay safe.

KEILAR: And what sort of -- what sort of response are you prepared to make? What do you expect you're going to see? You've seen other storms before, I'm sure. What normally happens in this case. When are you coming to the aid of people?

BURNS: Fortunately for us, we've had a majority of the boating traffic down here heed the warning. And we've had very little traffic, which is, you know, definitely what we like to see, as far as people again, taking the storm seriously.

We've actually prepositioned some of our boats further up inland and away from the storms, still being safe to actually come back down once the storm has passed. We resume normal operations, and once that storm does pass, we'll be out, you know, assuring that the channels are clear, making sure that the routes are all for navigable waters, are safe for the ferries to start running again. And then, you know, our main mission, assisting lives and saving lives where necessary as a result of the storm.

KEILAR: Yes, certainly to note if emergency responders are taking cover, a lot of the folks there should be heeding the warnings. Petty Officer Tim Burns with the U.S. Coast Guard, thank you so much.

And I want to go further up the coast now to CNN senior correspondent Joe Johns. He is in the Outer Banks, those vulnerable barrier islands. He is in a place called Kill Devil Hills. Joe, tell us what you're seeing there?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can see, just over the last couple hours, we've really started to see a change in the situation here at Kill Devil Hills. The mist has started rolling in. The waves have picked up dramatically. Now when the National Weather Service upgraded the seriousness of

the storm this afternoon, the Dare County Emergency Management really essentially started trying to increase the recommendation for people who live here to decide to go ahead and leave, especially around the area south of here near Hatteras Island, telling him, "If you haven't decided already to evacuate, you need to reconsider that decision."

We're talking about 40,000 to 50,000 people who have to find somewhere else to go as the storm begins moving up the coast. And now there are a lot of reason for that. It's not just the concern about the weather, which could be severe. It's also a very big concern about the roads, specifically North Carolina Highway 12.

Now that road tends to wash out whenever there's a hurricane, and it washed out a big way, just a couple years ago. There are fears about water on the road, as well as a lot of sand, and in that situation, the emergency personnel who were standing by to try to clear the road cannot do that until the weather stops being so dangerous. So a series of bad, you know, possibilities here in North Carolina -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Joe Johns for us in Kill Devil Hills. We'll be checking back in with you.

But let's bring in now CNN's Tom Foreman. He's actually mapping out the flood risk and the evacuation routes for us. And certainly, Tom, this gets more concerning, because as we've been talking about, high tide is expected to be happening around the time that this could be coming by Hatteras and the other parts of the Outer Banks.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Joe just said a moment ago about Highway 12 out there? Let's take a look at what he's making reference to in here. This is the very area we're talking about, the Outer Banks.

You see that little spit of land out there? This is the area that Highway 12 services. And look what happened in 2011. Hurricane Irene went through. It was a Category 1 at the time. Had a storm surge of 5-7 feet, like Chad was talking about. And look what happened. Whole areas were cut off, and there were really significant problems getting to people.

And here's what has continually made this worse for the past 25 years. If you look at our whole area that is affected, look what has happened with populations. We have been steadily, steadily moving to the beach for ages. This is the percentage increase down here near Wilmington, total population 125,000. You move up to the next county, 210,000. You move up to the next one, 59,000. On and on it goes. In every case, you see these gigantic jumps in the percentage of people living there, and in the end, by the time you get up here, then you add in Virginia Beach and Norfolk up here in Virginia. You're talking about more than a million people right now in these coastal counties that are immediately under threat from this storm. And that is a much bigger number than you would have had 15 years ago.

That's why, when you talk about things like these, evacuation routes that we're trying to make reference to here, which go all along here and have to feed up into the community like this, it's a much heavier load on them to get people out and to get rescuers in -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Tom. Thanks so much for mapping that out for us.

And coming up, we'll have the latest forecast for Arthur. We are tracking this storm in the CNN hurricane center. We'll go back live to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, already really feeling the brutal effects of this storm.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Our breaking news right now. Hurricane Arthur is starting to unleash his fury on the North Carolina coast. Here are the latest developments for you.

Arthur is whipping North Carolina with sustained winds of 90 miles an hour and even higher -- gusts at even higher speeds. It's forecast to grow into a Category 2 storm this evening. Storm surges as high as five feet are likely. There will be deadly rip currents offshore, and inland areas could not see flooding.

Tropical storm warnings are now up as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, Canada. CNN meteorologist, severe weather expert Chad Myers is tracking the storm for us.

Chad, what are you seeing?

MYERS: I've seen the storm make the right turn that we expected all along, finally, because it was really making a beeline all the way to Wilmington. Here's the line of longitude right there. Follow the eye, now moved to the east of that line of longitude, and so now we now that it has its eastward component that we always thought.

This part of the storm will rotate around. It will wobble up through over Morehead City through Cape Hatteras and then out to sea, just like that. Because hurricanes don't go in straight lines. You think they do, but they're only going in straight lines if they're very symmetrical. That's not a symmetrical storm. It's kind of a wobbler. So this is going to continue to wobble up the East Coast. The problem is, it's wobbling at 90 miles per hour, with the eastward front there, and it's going to get to 100 miles per hour before it does hit Morehead City and then probably into the south and then across to Nags Head.

Here's the issue. When you talk about the sound, a pretty shallow body of water. You can push water in it, and you can suck water out of it. You could actually get overwash from both sides, one from the ocean this way, if I draw it right there, the water can come over. And then when the storm goes by, the water rushes out the other way, and so, you know, you just saw those erosion pictures that Mr. Foreman just showed us, just a little bit ago, from the storm just a few years ago. We can get it one way and then the other way, we wash out the roads from both directions -- Brianna. KEILAR: It's pretty scary stuff there, Chad. We'll be keeping

an eye on that as this progresses. Thank you, Chad.

And let's go now to CNN's Alina Machado back in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

So, Alina, tell us what you're seeing there. It seems the conditions have worsened even just in the last few minutes.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the rain isn't really a factor right this moment, but just the wind, these wind gusts are really picking up. We've really been feeling them whipping us around for hours now. And we're told this is probably going to get worse before it gets better.

The good news, though, Brianna, again, is that it seems like people are heeding the warnings, they're staying home and they're not coming out here. And I don't know if you're noticing it, but sure enough it's starting to rain again. And that's kind of the way it's been all day.

Excuse me a moment, it's kind of hard to keep my footing and also hold on to my hat here -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, and Alina, let's bring in Chad, because I want to get a better, more expert sense of really what she's feeling here -- Chad.

MYERS: Well, she is now on the north side of a northbound outer band, right through here. Not quite the eye wall. The eye wall is still here, but this outer band she's about to get in will pick those wind speeds up 20 miles per hour from where you are right now, Alina. So get ready to batten down your feet because it's about to get really windy.

Now in 20 or so minutes, this band goes by, there's a small break, and then you do get -- then you do get the north part of the outer eye wall and your wind speeds may pick up another 15 from where you'll be here in another 15. So it's going to get worse, yes, before it gets better. It gets better probably for you in four hours. But think about the pounding this wind and these waves and all of this now taking on the beaches. A lot of erosion going on right now.

KEILAR: And Alina, are you seeing people out and about there?

MACHADO: You know, we've seen some people out at the beach, every time there's a bit of a break in terms of the rain, but we're not seeing people going in the water. And that was really the biggest concern officials here have had this entire time. I mean, the surf is very rough. We are seeing some beach erosion. And really the last thing people should be doing right now is getting in the water.

I think people are also staying home. Not seeing a whole lot of traffic, but again, you know, we've been primarily at this location so it's kind of hard to tell. KEILAR: Chad, do you even want to see people going out to the

beach, even if they're not getting in the water? I mean, shouldn't they be staying away?

MYERS: You should stay away from it. You know, things will start to fly. This is a picture about 10 miles south of where Alina is right now. This is Cure Beach. This is the pier at Cure Beach from our surfchecks.com camera. There's nobody on that pier and there shouldn't be, because those piers are getting undercut, some of that sand getting washed away, some of that sand going to never come back, taken out to the ocean a thousand yards and we'll have to go scoop it up and bring it back.

But this is what the picture looks like, not that far away. So when the rain starts, this is what Alina is in store for.

Now I'm going to take you to one more spot. This is five miles north of Alina, and a completely different picture. This is what happens when you get a rain band over you. The rain band, when it rains down, it translates. It takes the wind from aloft, that the planes fly through the hurricane hunters, and it just slams it to the ground. And so in a half hour, this camera will look exactly like this camera right now. And Alina will look just like this camera in about 10 minutes.

KEILAR: All right. We'll be watching, Chad Myers, Alina Machado, thank you so much.

Let's go now to Jerry Jones. He is the mayor of Morehead City, North Carolina. He's joining us now on the phone.

Mayor, tell us what it is like where you are.

MAYOR JERRY JONES, MOREHEAD CITY: Well, we are just starting to feel the outer bands of the hurricane. In fact, I'm hearing the wrath as we're speaking. We've got a bad thunderstorm outside and our winds are probably 35, 40-mile-an-hour, but we definitely expect them to pick up quite a bit in the next couple of hours.

KEILAR: And are you pretty confident with what -- how residents have been responding? Are there any -- I mean, we've been hearing people out on the beaches where they shouldn't be? Are you experiencing any of that?

JONES: I think -- in fact, I was pleasantly surprised today. We never declared an evacuation either of -- it's always a voluntary evacuation, use your own judgment, but we did mandate one. And it's been a lot of people leaving our country, leaving the beach, and I'm hoping they're going inland, if this has been the evening, then come back tomorrow afternoon, you know, when it's all over with. But people have been pretty well responsible.

KEILAR: Why do you think they're making that choice this time to leave, even though it's not mandatory, or even voluntary at this point? What -- why are they making that choice? JONES: I might pat you on the back for that. I think because of

our media and our weather forecasting, I just think we've gotten the word out and it helps, you know, to let people know what the storm is doing and the potential of it.

KEILAR: All right, Mayor, thank you so much. Really appreciate you talking to us.

I want to go to Tom Foreman now. He is mapping out the flood risk and the evacuation routes for us.

This is a really vulnerable area, Tom. And if you're not really familiar with the Eastern Seaboard, you might not understand exactly why it's so vulnerable.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, vulnerable because so much of it is so low-lying out there, Brianna. Take a look at this. If you see this right here, everything down here that we're drawing along here is in the area where if you're talking about a 5 to 7-foot storm surge, it's potentially vulnerable. Particularly when you get up here, this whole area gets affected and so does this area up into here. This is a lot of people out here.

These islands like Ocracoke Island out here. That has very little chance of staying high and dry in a circumstance like this. And we've already talked about the problems that can happen on Highway 12 here.

Just as importantly, as much as you may have rain that's pounding down on this area this way, many times a storm like this will carry a lot of rain up into here. And in fact, in Hurricane Irene, what we saw was a lot of rain here that then came flowing back this way and it sort of filling up all these sounds. And then you started having a lot of flooding and a lot of different areas and that gave us exactly what we were looking at earlier, roads being washed out, houses being lost.

In Hurricane Irene, you had about 1100 homes lost in this general area. And of course, there was damage to that as this storm may do the same, went all the way up the Eastern Seaboard -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And that's really one of the concerns here. It's a category 2, which maybe some folks say, well, that could definitely be worse, but you're looking at flooding of, you know, three, four, five feet depending on where you are, you have a high tide, and that really increases the storm surge.

FOREMAN: Yes, you know, one of the things that Chad talks about very often that really matters here is the speed of the storm and whether or not it decides that it's going to sit there and grind for a long period of time. If the storm would simply sweep up this path and be gone, well, it would do the damage, went, and move on. But there are storms sometimes that really come in and they sit down on an area and they grind and they grind and they grind.

And when they do that, it allows that water to simply build up and build up and build up, and that becomes a real problem, especially when you combine it with the wind damage from either direction. The water, always, always, always with hurricanes, water is what you worry about most. We look at the wind because it's dramatic and it can do damage, but the thing that puts people out of their homes and wipes out roadways is water.

KEILAR: Yes, and --

FOREMAN: And the longer it sits here, the more water you get.

KEILAR: And causes billions of dollars in damage in the case of some hurricanes.

FOREMAN: Absolutely.

KEILAR: All right, Tom, thanks for explaining that to us, really appreciate it.

And coming up, Hurricane Arthur is also impacting air travel because this is, yes, a holiday weekend, and it's just getting started. We'll have the latest on this dangerous storm, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: CNN meteorologist and severe weather expert, Chad Myers, is tracking this storm, Hurricane Arthur, for us right now.

Where is Arthur, Chad?

MYERS: The center of Arthur, about 30 miles due south of Cape Fear. That would be that pointy part right down there. And we'll see Wilmington, we'll see Wrightsville Beach show up here. But there are parts of Arthur that you don't even know about. It's the arms. Those big wide arms that are making some showers and storms, a lot of lightning across parts of central North Carolina, even to upstate South Carolina.

Let me show you one of the things that's going to hurt this community all the way from Morehead City, all the way back down here. Notice the shape of the shoreline. It is like a catcher's mitt. All of this water that's now pouring in because the wind is blowing it. Think about, you get a cup of black coffee and you blow the top off, you kind of try to cool it off. You wet your mouth, your wind, your breath blows the waves to the other side of the cup.

That's what's happening here, except your breath is 100 miles per hour. So it's blowing all of this water in ripples, one after another, toward this catcher's mitt. And the water's not going to be allowed to go out. So as the storm gets closer and closer and the winds get higher and higher, as close until we get to this eye, that's where the winds are going to get higher. The eye wall right through here, the highest winds.

All of this water now piling up from Wrightsville Beach, all the way up to Surf City, all the way up to Morehead City. You just talked to the mayor of Morehead City. He said a

thunderstorm was coming, there it is right there. It's one of the outer bands coming to his city now, and it's going to be hours, as Tom just mentioned, there's going to be hours and hours of this. So think about blowing your coffee for an hour, how much water you'd push, your coffee you'd push to the other side and think about blowing it at 90 miles per hour.

How much water is going to pile up in these communities. There will be overwash, there will be cities without roads, especially the road that runs all the way through here. Some of the roads, only about -- I would say, the island, maybe one or two blocks wide. That one or two blocks will be completely overwashed here in a matter of time. Probably two or three hours. We've been watching this, this is Cure Beach.

You can hardly see, it's a whiteout down here. A little bit farther to the north by about 10 or 15 miles, still doing fairly well. That camera just locked up, but I'm telling you, you can see the dark horizon here. This is just about -- and it's not nighttime, that's the storm coming here. Those are the storms we're talking about that are right down here, headed up towards Wilmington, headed up to Surf City right there. There's Wrightsville Beach, one storm after another.

And one more thing, because it's not bad enough the way it is, anytime you see an orange area here, one of these cells, they could be rotating, there's a tornado watch in effect. Not talking about giant tornadoes, but you only need one small tornado over your house and it will affect you. Tornado watch is in effect. Some tornados, they've already been on the ground -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Chad. Stick with us. We'll be coming back to you momentarily. But I want to go now to Buzz Jones. He is the owner of a small business. That is about three blocks from the beach in Carolina Beach.

Buzz, thanks for joining us so much and just tell us your concerns about being so close to the beach.

BUZZ JONES, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: It's definitely the water. There's a lot of water obviously in the rain and then the storm surge. We're really concerned about actually the roads closing down. There's been reports. The roads are closed shortly. And we're just trying to wait this thing out.

KEILAR: And --

JONES: And talk to them again.

KEILAR: And what does that mean for you as a business owner, as a resident. I imagine you've have dealt with water damage before.

JONES: Yes.

KEILAR: When this storm passes, what do you fear that you will be dealing with?

JONES: Well, you know, being an air-conditioning contractor, a lot of systems drop in homes without air-conditioning because tomorrow should be a nice day, should be warm. And getting all these systems back up and running. Right now, I'm sitting at -- you know, at a restaurant, the only one that's opening, waiting for, you know, a possible problem, at Michael's.

KEILAR: And so you're obviously going to be very busy with that tomorrow. It's interesting, you say, it's not necessarily the wind that bothers you, but I imagine you're taking precautions against that, and you will continue to as things deteriorate here.

JONES: Oh, there's no doubt. The wind is a big deal. You know, it's knocking down power lines everywhere. You know, roofs are coming off. It's not a good situation. We hear there's reports of (INAUDIBLE) bridge closing at 6:00 and, you know, there's a lot of people going to be stuck on the island.

KEILAR: And what about -- you're, obviously, in a low-lying area. I know that you, I believe, live by a lake. What did you have to deal with even just -- even now you're pumping water, is that right?

JONES: Right now we're not quite pumping water, but we have equipment ready.

KEILAR: OK.

JONES: For that to happen. But right now, it's not. You know, we've been through a couple of hurricanes here, not recently, thank goodness, but we're ready for it.

KEILAR: All right, well, we're thinking of you. We know that you're really just in the beginning of all of this, Buzz, and we really appreciate you talking to us.

That was Buzz Jones, he is a small business owner of a heating and cooling -- I should say company there in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

And we want to go back now to CNN's Alina Machado. She is in Wrightsville Beach.

Alina, tell us about what you're seeing there.

MACHADO: Well, it's interesting. The wind seems to have died down just a little bit since the last time we chatted, but the rain's back, and that's why the red jacket's on again. And this is what we're going to be seeing, it seems, from what Chad said. This is the trend here. We're going to see gusts, high wind gusts, we're going to see a lot of rain, and it's just going to not be much fun for people around here.

I talked to the police chief. He says that so far no major flooding. Earlier, we did have a lot of downpours, and there was some minor flooding of low-lying roads and that has since cleared up. No reports of damage. They also have been going up and down the beach, reminding people of the dangers of being in the water. They have told people to leave, people have listened.

So, Brianna, so far things are definitely picking up here in Wrightsville Beach, but people are at least paying attention to the warnings.

KEILAR: It's like we can see the bands of wind and rain coming as we talk to you each time, Alina. You're just in between them and then one is upon you.

All right. Stay safe. We will be coming back to you in just a little bit.

Meantime, President Obama is getting regular briefs on Hurricane Arthur. This becomes a federal issue when you have a storm like this.

CNN White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, has more on this.

Tell us what White House officials are saying -- Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna, yes, we're getting some nasty weather over the White House right now, some lightning and thunder and heavy rain, and believe it or not, this is not from Arthur, at least not yet. But as this storm approaches, and we all know that even a category 1 hurricane can do significant damage, sometimes these things do affect the country on national level, in terms of the economy, fuel supplies, infrastructure, insurance.

So, yes, the White House is watching this closely and they're reacting to it. They say right now, first and foremost, number one priority is making sure that citizens are paying attention to it. That they are preparing and they're listening to all those instructions given to them within their own communities. But the White House is also crafting its own technical response through FEMA. They've already sent down a special coordination team to North Carolina to work with state and local officials there.

And they've pre-positioned some staff in both North and South Carolina. They want to make sure that the resources are in place and that things can be coordinated easily once the storm hits -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Michelle Kosinski, at the White House. Thank you so much.

And next, storm warnings are up along the East Coast. We will show you where this dangerous storm is headed with Chad Myers in our hurricane center.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Our breaking news, Hurricane Arthur is hammering North Carolina and storm warnings are up along the East Coast as far as Canada.

Let's get the very -- latest, I should say, from Chad Myers. He's in the weather center.

We're really getting sort of regular updates here, Chad. What are we hearing now?

MYERS: Yes, every position now updated. And even from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft updating the pressure as they drop the drop sun in it actually, the thing that goes all the way down to the surface and splashes into the ocean, gives us the exact pressure of the center of the storm. That's important because if a pressure is going down, the storm is getting stronger. If the pressure is going up, that means the storm is dying. We haven't seen any dying indication yet.

The color on the satellite isn't as impressive. That's something good. But I don't believe that's impressive enough to worry that this is going to -- only be the cat 1. This is still going to be a category 2 making landfall because as the eye gets smaller tonight, as it interacts with the land, the eye is going to get smaller thinking like it's dying but it's not. It's like an ice skater when she bring her arms in and does the spin, bring the arm in, it goes fast, to bring the arms in, put the arms out, it goes slower.

When the arms get in on this storm and the eye gets to about 10 nautical miles, that's when the worst of the storm is going to be taking place. That's going to be somewhere along the Carolina coast. So here's the storm itself, there's Alina Machado right there. And because she didn't have anything about 10 minutes ago, she's going to get a lot the next time this next outer band comes through. As she's here, it's almost there and then eventually the northern eye wall right through here -- and this is the area right there that has the winds of 90 mile per hour.

The storm will continue on up here along the coast. It will scour this entire coast right through here. The waves will come in, take the sand and just push the sand right back out into the ocean and take -- even a lot of the beach itself, it will be gone. Won't be able to see a beach or notice a beach even when we get down to low tide.

Here's what we look for. This is Cure Beach. The waves are just incredible here. Six to 10-footers. This is low tide. And I could see it right here. This is the fence that divides the residences from the beach. We have five more hours before we get this to high tide. When this gets to be high tide, this water is going to get into all of those homes right there along Cure Beach and this is still a picture about 10 miles north. We're still seeing the waves pick up there at Wrightsville Beach -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Chad, we'll be checking back in with you. Thank you.

And coming up, we have correspondents who are deployed throughout this storm zone. We have much more coverage of this dangerous hurricane and we'll be telling you where it's heading next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Happening now, breaking news.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): Hurricane emergency. The danger is just beginning as Arthur barrels up the East Coast zeroing on North Carolina forcing crowds of holiday beach goers to evacuate and take cover.

MYERS: This couldn't be a worst case than what we have right now.

KEILAR: The first hurricane of the season is packing pounding rain and intense winds and it's threatening to unleash tornadoes.