Residents and visitors began evacuating a barrier island in Carteret County at 5 a.m. Thursday.
Emergency Services Director Jo Ann Smith says she's not sure how many people are affected by the order to leave the Bogue Banks areas. Unlike some of the barrier islands on the Outer Banks who had to take a ferry, Smith says people can simply leave in their cars.
Forecasters are still trying to determine exactly where Earl will go. The storm has winds of 145 mph and could threaten the Northeast after brushing past the North Carolina coast.
Thousands of people have left the Outer Banks, but many permanent residents planned to ride out the storm.