Earl passes Hatteras; winds picking up in O.C.
Hurricane Earl, weakened to a 105-mph Cat. 2 storm, passed about 80 miles off Cape Hatteras early this morning and began its expected trek up the East Coast toward New England, angling even farther away from the Demarva shores. Peak winds at Hatteras' Mitchell Field overnight rose to 35 mph, with gusts to 62. Nearly 3 inches of rain were recorded.
Winds were beginning to pick up in Ocean City, where the winds just before 7 a.m. were clocked at 12 mph out of the northeast, with gusts to 26. The National Weather Service said the resort should expect sustained winds to increase to between 32 and 37 mph later this morning, with tropical-storm-force gusts to 46 mph.
A quarter- to a half-inch of rain is possible before skies begin to clear off this afternoon. But rough surf and dangerous rip currents will continue to make swimming foolhardy until seas calm from today's predicted 15 to 20 feet.
All-in-all, thanks to Earl's offshore track, it looks like the Maryland and Delaware beaches will be spared a seriously destructive storm. And aside from some small craft warnings, the weather in the Baltimore area looks fine. Maryland, for the most part, seems to have dodged another dangerous tropical system.
The Hurricane Watch was discontinued this morning from the Carolina border north to Cape Henlopen Delaware. A Tropical Storm Warning, however, remains in effect on Delmarva, and as far north as Sandy Hook, N.J., and in the Lower Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.
By 8 a.m., forecasters expect that Earl's eye will be located off the Virginia Capes, moving to the north northeast at 18 mph. The atmospheric pressure at the eye was rising, reflecting the slow weakening of the storm as it moves over cooler waters. The forecast storm track would take it to Southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, where a Hurricane Warning remained in effect. Gusts to 85 mph were forecast tonight for Nantucket.
From there, Earl is expected to move quickly toward Nova Scotia and the Canadian Maritime Provinces.