North Carolina beaches thin out ahead of tropical weather

RODANTHE, N.C. (AP) — Crowds thinned today on the beaches of North Carolina's Outer Banks ahead of a tropical weather system that threatened to bring strong winds and heavy rains that could flood low-lying areas.

Elsewhere, a powerful hurricane threatened to pass "dangerously close" to Hawaii and another tropical depression churned in Gulf of Mexico waters with the potential to bring rain and wind to Florida.

On North Carolina's Hatteras Island, a slow stream of dozens of cars from places including Maryland, New York and Ohio headed toward a bridge to the mainland. There was light, intermittent rain and a mostly cloudy sky.

A public beach near Rodanthe was nearly empty, save for two parents enjoying a walk with their 11-year-old son. Nearby, large waves crashed in the increasingly angry-looking surf.

Joe and Kelley Walker of Markham, Va., plan to wait out the rain with movies or card games unless the forecast worsens.

"We're not worried about the storm so much unless they say there's something to worry about," Joe Walker said.

The tropical weather system off the coast was expected to strengthen and pass near the Outer Banks by late today, bringing sustained winds as high as 45 mph and heavy rains of up to 5 inches in some areas.