Hurricane Earl takes aim at US Cape Cod

New England and outlying tourist hotspot of Cape Cod was next in Earl`s path.

South Yarmouth: A weakened but still nasty Hurricane Earl raced towards the beachcombers` paradise of Cape Cod, sweeping up the US East Coast with heavy rains and strong winds.

"Although Hurricane Earl has weakened some, it is still a potentially dangerous storm and residents should continue to take Earl seriously and get ready," said FEMA administrator Craig Fugate.

Residents in North Carolina were mopping up after a storm surge sent waves crashing ashore, flooding roads on the low-lying barrier islands as the high winds caused sporadic power outages.

New England and the outlying tourist hotspot of Cape Cod was next in Earl`s path, even though it was downgraded on Friday to a category one storm.

"At this time we have no official reports of fatalities related to the storm track nor do we have any report of damage," Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told reporters.

Despite the downgrade of the storm, transport to and from Cape Cod and the nearby high-end destination islands of Nantucket and Martha`s Vineyard, where last week US President Barack Obama and family vacationed, was limited.

High-speed ferry service to the islands was cancelled, along with dozens of cancellations by the region`s leading airline, Cape Air.

And the Friday traffic commute over Cape Cod`s two bridges was extremely light, given the Labor Day weekend usually boasts a four to five-hour gridlock.

The National Hurricane Centre said winds had weakened to near 75 miles (120 kilometres) per hour as the storm lost steam churning northward over cooler waters.

"Hurricane Earl remains large, but is losing its punch," the centre said.

Earl was now a category one hurricane, the lowest level on the NHC`s five-category Saffir-Simpson scale, although it was still several hundred miles across.

Bureau Report