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Arthur – the first named tropical system of the 2014 season – officially became a Hurricane on Thursday.

More ominously, its forecast track continued to call for a Fourth of July collision course with North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Located 300 miles south of Cape Hatteras, Arthur is packing maximum sustained winds of more than 80 miles per hour – as of 8:00 a.m. EDT Thursday.

“Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next twenty-four hours,” the National Weather Service (NWS)’s latest advisory noted.

Hurricane warnings are already in effect for most of the North Carolina coast – from Surf City, N.C. to the state’s northern border with Virginia.  Tropical storm warnings extend further south – to the Santee River in South Carolina.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory ordered mandatory evacuations for the barrier islands, and urged residents and tourists not to take the storm too lightly.

“Don’t put your stupid hat on,” McCrory said.

Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), here’s the latest five-day forecast window for Arthur …

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And here’s the latest forecast track …

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(For our previous coverage of Arthur, click HERE and HERE).