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Friday, September 03, 2010

Hurricane Earl weakens, continues trek to Canada

Hurricane Earl roared past North Carolina last night and this morning as a category 2 storm bringin heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge flooding to the Outer Banks. Earl had been a Category 4 hurricane just 24 hours before passing the coast creating a very high storm surge even as the storms windspeed dropped from 140 MPH to 110 MPH.

Video: Earl soaks NC Coast; Heads for New England (Associated Press)


Hurricane Earl has dimished further and is now a Category 1 storm as it heads north towards the Canadian maritimes. Even though Earl is much weaker than it had been, it is still a dangerous storm and should be respected. Residents should remain indoors while storm conditions exist.

Hurricane Earl becomes Category 1 storm (Boston Herald)
That National Hurricane Center discontinued hurricane warnings between Hull and Cape Elizabeth, Maine, but Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket still must brace for the storm.

Earl is expected to pass 50 to 100 miles southeast of Nantucket with winds picking up as early as 3 p.m. and the greatest impact of the storm hitting from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., Patrick said. The state of emergency remains in effect.

“This is a storm not necessarily to be afraid of, but we should respect the storm,” said Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Administrator Rich Serino.

Earl was downgraded to a Category 1 storm earlier today after roaring past North Carolina as a Catergory 2 hurricane with winds of 115 miles per hour.

Even as the storm weakens, officials warn the hurricane is still expected to bring down trees and power lines, pack strong winds and hurricane gusts and usher in rip tides.
As a precaution, Amtak canceled all train service between New York and Boston and the Coast Guard has closed all ports in southeast New England.

Earl continues to steadily weaken as it moves towards the north and with 80 MPH sustained winds will soon be a minimal hurricane. Earl is expected to decrease in strength a become a tropical storm before reaching the Canadian coast.

Outer bands of Hurricane Earl lash the Cape and Islands (Boston Globe)
The outer bands of Hurricane Earl lashed the Cape and Islands early this evening with rain and crashing waves as the diluted storm chugged toward New England.

Forecasters expected the intermittent showers and steady breeze to intensify over the next few hours, with the brunt of the storm glancing Nantucket some time after midnight. Earl's maximum sustained winds dropped from 105 miles per hour this morning to 80 miles per hour this evening. As it sloshed up the Eastern Seaboard, the storm may lose more of its punch, but authorities continued to urge people in its path not to take Earl for granted.

"Although Hurricane Earl has weakened some, it is still a potentially dangerous storm and residents should continue to take Earl seriously and get ready," said Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The most recent forecast put the hurricane 230 miles southeast of Nantucket off the coast of Delaware. The swirl of clouds is expected to accelerate as it heads north.

"The good news on Earl is that it has been steadily weakening, maybe even a little quicker than forecast," Bill Read, director of the National Hurricane Center, said in a telephone news conference. "It may even go below hurricane strength about the time it passes southern New England overnight tonight."

--snip--

While the hurricane may not be as strong and close as was originally predicted, its winds, hitting trees full of foliage, will still be able to down or uproot them, causing scattered power outages, particularly on the Cape and islands, forecasters said. Tropical storm force winds are defined as winds from 39 to 73 miles per hour.

The storm will also bring some areas heavy rains of up to 6 inches over a 6-hour period, raising the possibility of urban and poor drainage flooding, as well as small stream flooding. The storm is not expected to cause serious coastal flooding because it is hitting at a perfect time -- low tide. But it is expected to stir up heavy surf and dangerous rip currents along the coast, beginning today.

Forecasters warned that the dangerous conditions at the beach would persist into Saturday, then begin slowly easing on Sunday and Monday. They advised people to check with local lifeguards about conditions before jumping in.

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