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U.S. Forecasters Keep Wary Eye on Hurricane Edouard

From Reuters

Hurricane Edouard’s threat to the southern United States diminished Friday, but forecasters warned that within a few days the powerful system could move inland in New Jersey, New York or New England.

At 11 p.m. EDT, Edouard’s center was about 470 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., moving north at 12 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Forecasters posted a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning from Cape Lookout, N.C., to Cape Henlopen, Del. They said watches and warnings might be extended farther north during the Labor Day weekend.

“On this track, the center of Edouard will be gradually approaching the mid-Atlantic coast,” the center said.

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A “watch” indicates that storm conditions are expected within 36 hours; a warning means conditions are due within 24 hours.

“If Edouard was to turn to the northwest again sometime tomorrow, then the Carolinas would feel the effects,” meteorologist Michelle Huber said Friday.

Edouard’s maximum sustained winds were near 130 mph, making it the most powerful storm of the season, a strong Category 3 hurricane capable of severely damaging structures. Little significant change in strength was expected Friday night.

Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 145 miles from the center of the storm, and tropical storm force winds extended up to 200 miles.

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The U.S. coast was already feeling Edouard’s effects, as forecasters warned holiday swimmers of high seas and said gale-force winds could arrive as early as tonight. Riptides and high waves were reported, and swells were expected to rise even higher as the storm traveled up the coast.

In coastal areas of North Carolina battered by Hurricane Bertha in mid-July, officials were preparing in case Edouard turned their way. Emergency workers said an evacuation of the Outer Banks was a strong possibility today.

“We’re just keeping a wary eye,” said Peter Stone of the emergency management department on Ocracoke Island, which has about 800 residents.

The U.S. Parks Service announced that its campgrounds along the Outer Banks would close at midday today, and officials said tourism was off.

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Forecasters also were watching Tropical Storms Fran and Gustav, which were far from land as they traveled across the Atlantic. Fran had been a hurricane but was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon because its winds had dropped to 70 mph.


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