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Hurricane Arthur has made landfall near the southern end of North Carolina's Outer Banks.
The Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 100mph (155kph) is moving northeast, the centre added.
The Atlantic storm has already sparked evacuations, closed beaches and tourist sites in the Carolinas.
Arthur could also cause dangerous rip currents, rainfall, fierce winds, and flooding along coastal areas of southern US states.
The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season has prompted the closure of campgrounds, lighthouses and beaches on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory warned holiday-makers not to press ahead with planned vacations along the affected areas.