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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the Fourth of July weekend nears, the Atlantic hurricane season's first named storm was slowly strengthening off Florida's coast early Wednesday.

At 5 a.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center reported Tropical Storm Arthur was located about 90 miles east of Cape Canaveral. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Florida's east coast, from Sebastian Inlet to Flagler Beach.

Forecasters said Arthur was becoming better organized but is likely to stay just offshore, passing northeastern Florida Wednesday night and moving parallel to the southeastern U.S. coast, becoming a hurricane by Thursday.

Maximum sustained winds were recorded at 60 mph. The storm has picked up speed and is currently moving north at 6 mph.

The NHC predicts a turn to the north-northeast Wednesday night followed by a turn toward the northeast and an increase in forward speed on Thursday.

A hurricane watch is also in effect from Bogue Inlet to Oregon Inlet in North Carolina. Also a tropical storm watch is in effect from south Santee River South Carolina to south of Bogue Inlet and from north of Oregon Inlet to the North Carolina/Virginia border including eastern Albemarle Sound.

The NHC urged those as far north as parts of Virginia to monitor Tropical Storm Arthur's path.

"I think everybody's keeping one eye on the weather and one eye on the events this weekend," said Joe Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah, the Georgia city's tourism bureau.

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