Atlantic storm Hermine drifted north on Monday off the U.S. East Coast, still packing near-hurricane strength winds but far enough from land to spare the Middle Atlantic states.
Forecasters warned swimmers and boaters along the Eastern Seaboard to stay out of treacherous waters churned up by the storm during the Labor Day holiday weekend.
On Cape Cod and its offshore islands, high surf and wind put a crimp in the holiday plans of many people looking to celebrate summer’s end, but beaches farther south reopened.
Hermine, classified as a Category 1 hurricane when it slammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast early on Friday, became a post-tropical storm by week’s end after its winds dropped below 74 mph and it lost its tropical characteristics.
The storm, which crossed northern Florida and then raked Georgia and the Carolinas, was still packing sustained surface winds of up to 70 mph (110 kph) with higher gusts on Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters expected Hermine to linger off the Middle Atlantic states and southern New England before gradually weakening by Tuesday morning.
For now, its strongest winds were extending outward by about 230 miles (370 km), failing to reach U.S. shores.
“Just because it’s a post-tropical cyclone doesn’t mean the impact of tropical force winds, winds in general and storm surge go away,” cautioned National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen.
Hermine was forecast to bring up to 2 inches (5 cm) of rain to Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect Sunday night from the eastern end of New York’s Long Island and to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, but the red flag came down for New York City.
At least one ferry operator canceled some trips to Nantucket on Monday morning because of the storm. “We are taking it trip by trip at this time,” Hy-Line Cruises said in a Twitter message.
On Block Island off Narragansett, Rhode Island, people appeared to be taking the unsettled weather in stride, even though it kept many tourists away.
“Windy & cloudy on #BlockIsland after windy & brilliant yesterday. No ferries. Island deserted. Almost ideal. (Unless you own a business),” Twitter user Tom Anderson said.
Storm-surge inundation levels of no more than one to three feet (30 cm to 1 m) were expected in coastal areas.
As the threat to New Jersey waned, Governor Chris Christie ordered Island Beach State Park reopened for Monday, while warning that lingering rip currents and rough surf might still make the ocean unsafe for swimmers.
At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) on Monday, Hermine’s center was about 230 miles (365 km) southeast of the eastern tip of Long Island. It was expected to move slowly off the mid-Atlantic region, north-northeast at only 3 mph (5 kph) and remain offshore.
Hermine became the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in 11 years, packing winds of 80 mph (130 kph), and knocking out power to 300,000 homes and businesses.
The storm claimed at least two lives, in Florida and North Carolina, but the widespread power outages and flooding that battered Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas had yet to materialize farther north, where alarming news reports scared many tourists away from the beach on Sunday.
(Additional reporting by Frank McGurty in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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