Hurricane Arthur forms in the Atlantic

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Residents and vacationers along the eastern seaboard are preparing for what could be a long and dangerous Fourth of July weekend..

Now Hurricane Arthur is gaining momentum and pushing toward the coastline right now. The Carolina Outer Banks could take the hardest hit.

The hurricane's maximum sustained winds early Thursday are near 75 mph (120 kph) with some additional strengthening expected.Hurricane warnings on the coast of North Carolina have been extended and now cover an area from Surf City to the Virginia border.

Hurricane Arthur is centered about 340 miles (545 kilometers) southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and is moving north near 9 mph (15 kph).

Track Hurricane Arthur

Thursday morning, the wind and waves were calm, but many residents are preparing for an unwelcome visitor.

Overnight, the coast showed few clues that Arthur is growing a few hundred miles away and pushing toward the shore.

"We are taking this storm very seriously and I ask that all coastal residents and visitors do the same," said North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R).

The current forecast shows the storm will brush the East Coast over the next few days. The Outer Banks of the Carolinas likely getting the worst of it at the worst possible time - the long holiday weekend.

Beach traffic is already building, and hotels are filling up for the Fourth. Vacationers watching the weather.

"I do this [crosses fingers] and hope, and of course safety first," said Nadine McKoy, vacationer.

Most at this point aren't planning to bail on their holiday plans just yet..

"This is something we plan every year, so unless it gets really bad or unless they make us leave, we'll stay," said Sharon Tinder, vacationer.

Visitors can't stay on Hatteras Island, where there's a mandatory evacuation order in place. Dozens left Cape Lookout National Park late Wednesday as the park activated its hurricane plan, forcing campers to clear out.

"I'm never mad at Mother Nature. She just does what she does. You just have to roll with the punches," said one camper.

They're hoping that Arthur just delivers a glancing blow.

Ahead of the storm, several cities in the potential strike zone - including Boston - are moving up their annual Fourth of July fireworks shows. They'll celebrate tonight.