North Carolina’s ports of Wilmington and Morehead City will close noon Friday as the coast braces for the impact of Hurricane Irene and the 115 miles-per-hour winds expected to hit landfall about 11 p.m. that evening.
The ports are expected to remain closed through Saturday, and vessels scheduled to call at the port during the weekend have been diverted, said North Carolina State Ports Authority spokesman Shannon Moody. The port remains open to commercial traffic, and all transfer operations can continue.
The ports authority said it expects the Cost Guard to close the Cape Fear River to inbound traffic to Wilmington late Thursday evening.
To the south, the Port of Charleston is monitoring the hurricane, but it doesn’t expect to be in its path, said South Carolina State Ports Authority spokesman Bryon Miller.
The Coast Guard on noon Wednesday issued the lowest of three levels of storm warnings, and advised mariners to expect winds of 39 to 54 miles per hour within 72 hours.
Gov. Bev Perdue said the Ocracoke Island is being evacuated as federal emergency workers help the state prepare for the hurricane, according to Bloomberg News. The storm's center is forecast to move across the southeastern and central Bahamas Wednesday, and over the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday.