Skip to main content

Caution urged for coastal visitors

By Marnie Hunter, CNN
  • Evacuation orders lifted Friday for much of North Carolina's Outer Banks
  • Visitors urged to check conditions before heading to coast
  • In Massachusetts, travelers to Cape and nearby islands urged to take shelter Friday afternoon

(CNN) -- Travelers with Labor Day weekend plans along beaches in Hurricane Earl's path should proceed with caution, check road conditions and confirm lodging plans before starting out, safety and tourism officials say.

At noon Friday, an evacuation order for parts of North Carolina's Outer Banks was lifted. Towns including Duck, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Manteo, Nags Head and Southern Shores are open, according to Dare County's emergency management division.

No re-entry passes are required to access the re-opened areas. Officials urge motorists to be cautious of deep standing water, which can cause brake failure and loss of vehicle control.

"Visitors planning travel to Dare County should first consult with their accommodations provider to confirm lodging reservations," said a bulletin from the emergency officials.

The mandatory evacuation order for Hatteras Island remained in effect at noon as transportation department crews worked to clear Highway 12 of sand and standing water.

Video: Earl lashes N.C. Outer Banks
Video: Cape Cod preps for Hurricane Earl

Beaches further south are doing business as usual.

"There are no evacuation orders in place down there and we're hoping that people will be able to enjoy their weekend and the beautiful weather," said Greer Beaty, communications director for North Carolina's Department of Transportation.

Visitors looking for information about road conditions and ferry service should consult the department's website and Twitter feeds for up-to-the-minute information, Beaty said.

The storm lashed portion's of the North Carolina coast Thursday into Friday morning, but the state appears to have "dodged the bullet" with minimal damage and no loss of life, said Gov. Bev Perdue.

Up the coast in Massachusetts, officials and residents are preparing to receive the storm Friday.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick cautioned travelers going to Cape Cod and nearby islands to take shelter before the brunt of the weather arrives.

"If you are traveling to or from the Cape or the islands this weekend, be off the roads and indoors from Friday afternoon through Saturday," Patrick said at a news conference.

Travelers planning to head to the coast on Saturday should check conditions before heading out, he said.

Rough seas curtailed some ferry service, but state transportation officials were not seeing traffic problems midday Friday, said spokesman Peter Judge.

"The expectation is most people will have the opportunity come tomorrow morning to head down to the Cape and hopefully the seas will not be so rough and ferry service will be able to continue," he said.

Travelers should check on road conditions and ferry service in the morning and exercise caution on the beaches, where the surf has been rough since Tropical Storm Danielle.

Dangerous currents may be the biggest issue for weekend visitors. Heed warnings, make sure there's a lifeguard on the beach and swim with others, Judge advised.

"It's supposed to be a lovely weekend, but the surf is going to continue to look pretty impressive, but also be pretty dangerous as well."