Powerful Hurricane Earl rolled toward the eastern U.S. seaboard yesterday and looked to sideswipe the densely populated coast from North Carolina to New England, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.


Forecasters expected the main core of the Category 4 hurricane to stay offshore as Earl moves parallel to the coast during the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend that traditionally marks the end of summer.


But any westward deviation from the forecast track could prompt coastal evacuations or even bring the storm ashore.


“A small error of 100 miles in the wrong direction could be a huge impact difference,” National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read told a conference call with journalists.

“Even a minor shift back to the west could bring impacts to portions of the coastline from the mid-Atlantic, northwards.”

Earl was forecast to clip the barrier islands of North Carolina’s Outer Banks tomorrow night and bring drenching rain, rough seas, pounding surf and gusting wind to the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to New England.