By Ben Fractenberg
MANHATTAN — Labor Day weekend could start with a washout due to Hurricane Earl, which is making its way toward the East Coast, meteorologists said.
The major storm, which was churning about 150 miles north of Puerto Rico Tuesday morning, is expected to travel up the coast passing east of Long Island on Friday, AccuWeather reported.
While the New York City Office of Emergency Management said Tuesday afternoon that it did not expect Hurricane Earl to hit the five boroughs directly, they did warn city-dwellers to prepare for coastal storm hazzards like rain and wind.
The hurricane already had winds upwards of 140 miles per hour and could strengthen to a category 5 storm by Tuesday night as it passes over the warm waters of the Caribbean, according to forecasters.
Depending on the track of the storm and how closely it skirts the coast, New York City and nearby beaches could get heavy rain and winds on Friday, meteorologists said. Or the storm could pass farther from land and have little effect on the city.
"Any small shift in the track could dramatically alter whether it makes landfall or whether it remains over the open ocean," U.S. National Hurricane Center meteorologist Wallace Hogsett told MSNBC. "I can't urge enough to just stay tuned."
The storm could also bring dangerous rip currents to area beaches during the three-day holiday weekend.
The OEM advized New Yorkers to bring loose outdoor items inside, protect valuables from potential flood damage and offer assistance to friends and relatives with special needs.
Check out NYC.gov for information on storm response procedures.