| GEO World|
Evacuations start as US braces for Hurricane Earl
| Updated at: 0037 PST, Thursday, September 02, 2010|
RALEIGH: Thousands of people evacuated North Carolina's barrier islands on Wednesday as a strengthened Hurricane Earl threatened to pound large areas of the US east coast with heavy winds and rough seas.
The strongest Atlantic storm of 2010 was on a path to lash the North Carolina coast and then move north, wreaking havoc on the end-of-summer US Labor Day holiday weekend that usually draws millions to the beaches.
At 2100 GMT, Earl regained category four status as sustained winds rose to 135 miles (215 kilometers), the National Hurricane Center said.
The eye of the storm was 630 miles (1,015 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras in the Outer Banks -- a narrow band of North Carolina barrier islands that is a major tourist destination but prone to high seas.