Hurricane Kyle races toward Nova Scotia; Maine on alert

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Hurricane Kyle plowed northward across the Atlantic toward Nova Scotia and the Gulf of Maine on Sunday, triggering Maine's first hurricane watch in 17 years.

Kyle could make landfall in the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, during the night or early Monday, according the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

A hurricane watch was posted along the coast of Maine from Stonington, at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, to Eastport on the Canadian border, and for southwestern Nova Scotia, the center said. Tropical storm warnings were in effect from Port Clyde, near Rockland, to the coasts of southern New Brunswick and southwest Nova Scotia.

"Since Saturday, it has picked up in intensity, but it has also stabilized," said Joseph Hewitt, a Maine-based senior forecaster for the National Weather Service.

Kyle was expected to pass east of the coast of Maine late Sunday and be near the Canadian Maritimes during the night or early Monday, the center said.

Authorities expect wind gusts in Maine to reach up to 60 mph and waves up to 20 feet, said Robert McAleer, Maine Emergency Management Agency director.

Residents of coastal islands were advised to evacuate if they depend on electricity for medical reasons, because ferry service was expected to be shut down Sunday, McAleer said. Power failures also were likely over the north coastal region of the state, he said.

"There's going to be some beach erosion," he said. "Our southern coastline is susceptible to beach erosion; the northern coastline is more rocky."

McAleer warned that coastal and small stream flooding could be a problem and said some hospitals in vulnerable areas had started sandbagging.

It was Maine's first hurricane watch in 17 years, the National Weather Service said. For the rest of New England, the last time a hurricane warning was posted was September 1996, for Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts, the weather service said.

At 8 a.m. EDT Sunday, Kyle was centered about 165 miles south-southeast of Nantucket, or about 440 miles southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the National Hurricane Center said.

It was moving toward the north-northeast at roughly 24 mph and expected to continue that track for the next day or so.

Kyle's maximum sustained wind speed had strengthened to nearly 80 mph, with hurricane-force wind of at least 74 mph extending up to 200 miles out from the center.

However, it was expected to weaken during the day Sunday as it moved over colder water, the hurricane center said.

The hurricane center said eastern New England and Canada's Maritime Provinces could see 4 to 6 inches of rain. Flood watches were in effect for the southern two-thirds of New Hampshire and southern Maine through Sunday evening.

A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions, with wind of at least 74 mph, are possible within 36 hours. A tropical storm warning means conditions for that type of storm, with wind of 39 to 73 mph, are expected within the next 24 hours.

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