Earl lost its tropical storm status over Canada late on Saturday, US government forecasters announced, but the storm still left one person dead and nearly 1 million people without power in northeastern Canada. The storm also menaced the east coast of the US, but left it largely undamaged.
“Earl is now post-tropical, and weakening is expected during the next 48 hours,” the US National Hurricane Center said.
Early yesterday, the center of the storm was located 295km southwest of Mary’s Harbour, in the Canadian region of Labrador, the hurricane center said.
It was packing sustained winds of 100kph and moving north-northeast at 74kph. The center of the storm made landfall in southern Nova Scotia shortly after 11am on Saturday, but the Canadian Hurricane Centre later said its strength steadily fell as it buffeted the craggy coastline.
Although weakened, Earl still pounded Halifax, the region’s largest city, with high winds and rain.
By late afternoon, one man was killed after falling off his boat in Nova Scotia and some 210,000 homes and 940,000 people in the region were without power.
Greater Moncton International Airport canceled all flights on Saturday, and Halifax Stanfield International Airport was under partial operation.
Earl lashed several hundred kilometers of the US East Coast seaboard last week with heavy rains and strong winds, disrupting holiday plans for millions and prompting evacuations in North Carolina.
It had also prompted hurricane warnings in the northeastern US state of Massachusetts, notably its vacation destinations including Cape Cod and the tiny islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
However, while residents battened down the hatches, the storm dealt the region only a glancing blow.
“We had a lot of hype, but no action, which was good,” the wife of a former attendant at the historic Chatham Lighthouse on Cape Cod said on Saturday.
“It’s over. There’s blue sky, sunshine, very little rain,” said the woman, adding that winds and rain were strong overnight, but did not cause major damage.
Authorities were clear: Coastal communities dodged a bullet.
“We’re ecstatic it didn’t happen,” US Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate, told reporters, referring to the expected devastation.
US communities suffered “very minimal impacts,” with no reports of fatalities, he said, and states were shutting down their emergency management centers.
Residents of North Carolina were mopping up after a storm surge flooded roads on the low-lying barrier islands, as the high winds caused sporadic power outages.
Local residents hunkered down along the beach paradise’s commercial spine, Route 28, parallel to the Atlantic.
They awoke to sunshine on Saturday, and quickly began pulling down plywood from storefront windows.
“We were really ready to get blasted, but we got lucky,” said Ray Coombes, a recreational sailor who summers in West Yarmouth on Cape Cod and removed his boat from the water on Thursday in anticipation of the storm.
Weather watchers said Earl was still the most powerful storm to threaten the northeastern US since 1991, when Hurricane Bob killed six people.
However, it left balmy weather in its wake on the US coast.
Fugate cautioned that the US was still 87 days away from the end of hurricane season.
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