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All eyes on Tropical Storm Arthur as potential hurricane threatens East Coast ahead of July 4th holiday

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PIX11 WEATHER CENTER — A July 4th hurricane near New York?  It’s increasingly looking like Tropical Storm Arthur is setting its sights on the East Coast for an Independence Day landfall.

On Tuesday afternoon, Arthur was drifting northwestward off the Florida coast. The strongest winds are now over the Bahamas. Tropical Storm Watches already have been issued for portions of the eastern coastline of Florida.

Eventually, a cold front is expected the catch the storm and give it a northeastern push along the Eastern Seaboard, where it will perhaps make landfall  on Friday morning near the Outer Banks of North Carolina before heading back out to sea. By that time, Arthur could be a minimal hurricane with maximum sustained winds of about 80 mph.

The storm is expected to be closest to us by Friday morning. While the storm is expected to be out to sea by the time it’s nearest to us, its waves will affect our area. Strong and dangerous rip currents are expected on the shoreline, which may shut beaches due to the heavy surf.

The winds seem to be not much of a factor as the storm’s center will be some 200 miles out in the Atlantic. Nonetheless, strong gusts can’t be discounted. Parts of the area may get heavy rain. There is still wide uncertainty  of the location and timing of when the heaviest rains will occur.

As the storm moves farther out by Friday night, there could be a few lingering showers. This could be good news for those who hope to see any fireworks displays.

Travelers across the eastern coast will have to deal with delays and perhaps canceled flights for the next few day.