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      Forecasters issue hurricane watch for NC coast

      Photo Credit: NOAA

      RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A hurricane watch has been issued for most of the North Carolina coast ahead of Hurricane Earl.

      Earl is a Category 4 storm with winds near 135 mph. It's about 1,000 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

      A hurricane watch is in effect for the North Carolina coast from north of Surf City to Duck.

      People from Virginia north to New England are also being urged to monitor Earl's progress.

      Federal officials say evacuations may be required in the U.S. if Hurricane Earl tracks too close to the East Coast.

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      National Hurricane Center director Bill Read says his agency can't rule out a "very close approach" to the areas of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, or Cape Cod and southern New England.

      Earl is forecast to potentially brush North Carolina late Thursday or early Friday. It was projected then to curve back out to sea, perhaps swiping New England or far-eastern Canada.

      Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate said Tuesday that people along the eastern seaboard should be prepared in case evacuations are necessary later this week.

      Officials will be closely monitoring the movement of the Category 4 hurricane to determine which parts of the coast will face the greatest impact. It's too early to tell right now what those might be.

      FEMA already has teams deployed in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and North Carolina. It has advance teams prepared to work with other states up the coast.

      (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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