Hurricane Weakens As It Hits The Coast

After whipping the North Carolina coastline with heavy wind and rain — but not with the power that nervous officials, residents and tourists had anticipated —Hurricane Earl weakened further on Friday as it churned north through the Atlantic, setting a course toward the seaside communities along Cape Cod. Emergency officials in Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and other waterfront towns throughout eastern Massachusetts were still bracing for what the National Weather Service called a “large hurricane,” but at least some of Earl’s menace had diminished by midday Friday. Forecasters downgraded the storm, which is entering cooler waters, to a Category 1 hurricane from a Category 2, and lifted some tropical storm alerts for parts of Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Long Island. The National Hurricane Center said the hurricane’s top sustained winds had slowed to 85 miles per hour as it lumbered through colder waters.