Tue, Aug 25, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Hurricane Bill weakens into storm


Hurricane Bill weakened to a storm and lost its tropical characteristics yesterday, the US National Hurricane Center said.

“Bill loses tropical characteristics,” the center announced after the storm passed over the southeastern part of Newfoundland, Canada.

Bill was hundreds of kilometers from shore and weakening as East Coast wave watchers and surfers came out to meet it, but it still was blamed in two deaths.

A seven-year-old girl died in Maine after she, her father and a 12-year-old girl were swept into the water on Sunday off Acadia National Park’s Thunder Hole, where tourists often gather to watch waves crash into a crevasse and make a thundering sound while splashing high in the air.

In New Smyrna Beach along the central Florida coast, a 54-year-old swimmer died after he was washed ashore unconscious near rough waves fueled by Bill. The man, Angel Rosa of Orlando, was pronounced dead at a hospital.

At Acadia National Park, about 175km northeast of Portland, park officials said an estimated 10,000 people, lured by the wild ocean, converged on the park’s loop road trying to get a good view of waves more than 4.5m high crashing against the rocky shore.

“The problem was there were thousands and thousands of people to try to keep an eye on,” Chief Ranger Stuart West said.

The US Coast Guard reported that the waves swept over 20 people. West said 11 people were taken to the hospital, mainly for broken bones after being slammed onto the rocks.

The seven-year-old girl who died and her father are from New York City. The 12-year-old girl who also was swept into the churning water is from Belfast, Maine, and is not related to them, West said. He would not release their names.

In Massachusetts, US President Barack Obama and his family arrived in Martha’s Vineyard on Sunday afternoon for vacation after the storm had passed well to the east.

The storm delayed or halted ferry services from New York to Maine, and kept many beaches closed.

In Montauk, New York, swimmers weren’t allowed in the water, but surfers were out in force. State parks spokesman George Gorman said almost 2,000 surfers showed up at Montauk on Sunday.

The storm delivered steady downpours and high winds as it moved into Canada on Sunday night, forcing flight cancellations and temporary road closings along Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast.

Bill ripped branches from trees in Halifax and elsewhere, and there was some localized flooding. But no major damage had been reported in the province by late on Sunday.

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