Ocean City's July 4 fireworks have been pushed back to Saturday to avoid Hurricane Arthur.
Hurricane Arthur is threatening to put a damper on the July 4 weekend festivities up and down the east coast, but many beach resorts remain hopeful that the storm that's expected to hit tonight won't ruin the biggest weekend of the summer.
It's been a perfect couple of days for folks who are already in Ocean City. Sunny skies, cool ocean breezes and water temperatures that have finally gotten to the point where fearless children and surfers in wetsuits aren't the only people swimming.
But the weather is expected to take a turn late as the first named storm of the hurricane season, Arthur, heads north from the Carolinas.
Joe Theobald is Ocean City’s Emergency Services Director. He is one of literally hundreds of thousands of people closely watching the storm’s movement, but he says people shouldn't be changing plans or hitting the panic button just yet.
“I don't see this ruining the weekend in any fashion, I think Saturday and Sunday are going to be spectacular days here," Theobald says.
Friday, on the other hand, is going to be a different story. Heavy rains and wind gusts from Arthur are expected to make travel more troubling than usual for the 4th. And for people who beat the storm to town, they could experience something that locals in downtown Ocean City know all too well: flooding.
“If we get a few inches of rain, yes, we will have that water pooling downtown where we normally do, but nothing to the extent, as of right now, that we see that there'd be road closures," Theobald says.
Theobald says the city has pushed back fireworks displays to Saturday night, just to be safe, even though Arthur is expected to be long gone by Friday afternoon. But even with that silver lining in the forecast, business owners are on edge heading into a weekend that is so vital to the coastal economy.
More than 250,000 people are expected in town, and they will pump millions into the local business community. So with so much at stake, Theobald is relaying the city’s battle cry loud and clear, over and again.
“We aren't telling anyone to stay away, this is not a storm that is going to cause overall public safety concern," he says.
But Theobald says if for some reason Arthur makes more of an impact, the resort has a new tool to get emergency messages out: the city’s brand new FM radio station 99.5, which they purchased for storms just like Arthur.
So while Theobald says its unusually early for a storm like this to be headed for Ocean City, he’s confident this 4th of July will likely be remembered for the rain delay and not a full on rain out.