Hurricane Arthur is expected to be a Category 2 storm when it hits the coast of North Carolina on Thursday night, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.

As of 2 p.m. EDT, the center of Arthur was here, or about 70 miles south-southwest of Cape Fear, and about 225 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, the Miami-based center said. The hurricane is moving to the north-northeast at 13 mph and is packing maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.

Five North Carolina counties have already declared a state of emergency, and on Thursday Gov. Pat McCrory told Carolinians, "don’t put your stupid hat on.”

Up and down the East Coast, states, cities and citizens are bracing themselves for the storm that will bring dangerous winds and extensive damage to the property it washes over. The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, a tradition for 40 years, was moved up a day, to Thursday, marking the first time since 1992 that the fireworks part of the show has been rescheduled, the Boston Globe reported Thursday.

Just outside of Boston, the town of Melrose canceled its Independence Day events, the local newspaper, reported.

Several Independence Day festivities have been canceled around New Jersey, which was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy nearly two years ago. Free concerts, parades, countless fireworks displays and neighborhood picnics were canceled, according to

Arthur is expected to turn toward the northeast with an increase in forward speed later Thursday, with the core of the hurricane approaching the coast of North Carolina later that night. A hurricane warning is in effect for an area stretching from Surf City to the North Carolina-Virginia border and Pamlico Sound and Eastern Albemarle Sound in the Tar Heel State.  The warning means “hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area,” and the hurricane center cautioned that “preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”

“Arthur is expected to be a Category 2 hurricane when it passes over or near the North Carolina coast,” the NHC said. By Friday night, Arthur is forecast to weaken and become a post-tropical cyclone by Saturday.

Storm surge between 3 feet and 5 feet is forecast within the hurricane warning area. Between 3 inches and 5 inches of rain, with up to 7 inches in isolated areas, is expected over coastal areas of North Carolina through Friday. Between 1 inch and 2 inches of rain is possible along the upper coast of South Carolina.

The storm may also cause isolated tornadoes over portions of the North Carolina coast through Thursday night.

Beyond the hurricane warning area, Hurricane Arthur is also expected to create life-threatening surf and rip currents from the east-central coast of Florida to South Carolina, the center said.

Alicia Perez contributed to this story.