People deal with the high surf and currents off Daytona Beach generated by Tropical Storm Arthur. (AP Photo/The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Jim Tiller)

Washington - Meteorologists are warning beach lovers up and down the Atlantic coast to avoid the waves as Arthur, the first tropical storm of the season, threatens to reach hurricane level and disrupt Friday's Independence Day celebrations.

The National Hurricane Centre on Wednesday focussed its attention on the North Carolina Coast, saying Arthur would likely reach hurricane level with 145-kilometre wind speeds.

Arthur was currently blowing at 95 kilometres an hour. But it added that everyone “along the United States East Coast north of (North Carolina) ... primarily in south-eastern New England” should be wary of the storm.

The private weather forecaster AccuWeather's meteorologist Rob Richards warned of a dangerous surf that is likely to bring life-threatening waves and rip currents, especially along piers and jetties.

Arthur on Wednesday was hovering about 100 kilometres east of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Though Arthur is expected to pass by New York City late Friday or early Saturday, rough winds and surf could still affect coastal New England throughout the Fourth of July weekend, Richards wrote.