- Associated Press - Friday, September 8, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina emergency officials are urging the public to stay vigilant preparing for Hurricane Irma even as the storm’s continued westward track is decreasing chances the state will take a direct hit.

Gov. Roy Cooper acknowledged at a media briefing Friday the forecast looks better for the state but warned it can change, and Irma’s sheer size still likely will bring heavy rains, gusty winds and some flooding statewide early next week.

The N.C. Department of Transportation is also keeping close watch for mudslides and rockslides on roads in the mountains, which have the greatest storm risks. Roadwork is also being suspended Friday night to help move northbound traffic fleeing the hurricane.

More than 300 National Guard soldiers have been called as storm preparations increase this weekend.

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