Weakened storm Earl bears down on Atlantic Canada

* Strong winds and rain expected in Nova Scotia

* Once a Category 4, Earl now a tropical storm

* Fading storm passed near Cape Cod overnight

By Pav Jordan

HALIFAX, Canada, Sept 4 (BestGrowthStock) – Tropical storm Earl, a
shadow of the massive hurricane that frightened the U.S. East
Coast this week, picked up speed on Saturday as it bore down on
Atlantic Canada packed with strong winds and rain.

The core of the storm was expected to hit the Nova Scotia
coast by late morning or early afternoon, the U.S. National
Hurricane Center said.

Canada warned residents in parts of the Atlantic provinces
to be on alert for tropical storm conditions. In Nova Scotia,
residents stocked up on emergency supplies.

Earl delivered heavy rain and gusty winds to parts of New
England en route to Canada, but caused far less damage than
feared on its path up the U.S. coast from North Carolina.

Maximum sustained winds were down to 70 mph (110 kph) as
Earl passed east of Massachusetts’ Nantucket Island and moved
northeast at 30 mph (48 kph), the hurricane center said.

It warned that Earl — though no longer packing anywhere
near the power of its peak ranking as a fearsome Category 4
storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale — was still a
large storm and could cause sea surges and localized flooding.

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For full coverage of Earl [ID:nN2005]

For an Earl graphic http://link.reuters.com/qeq29n

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At 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT), Earl’s center was about 145 miles
(230 kms) southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with tropical
storm force winds extending out 205 miles (335 km) from its
core, the hurricane center said.

As oil refineries, drilling platforms and nuclear power
plants along the Atlantic coast monitored Earl’s path, EnCana
Corp (ECA.TO: ) said it suspended drilling and pulled personnel
from a Nova Scotia rig in Canada. [ID:nN02195719]

Imperial Oil Ltd (IMO.TO: ) shut down its Dartmouth, Nova
Scotia, refinery as a precaution.

Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: ) said it had pulled nonessential staff
from its Sable field in offshore Nova Scotia. [ID:nN02238430]

ConocoPhillips (COP.N: ) said it implemented hurricane
response plans at its 238,000 barrel per day refinery in
Linden, New Jersey and a 185,000 bpd refinery in Trainer,
Pennsylvania. Operations remained unaffected. [ID:nN03124548]

LOSING ITS PUNCH

The fading storm raised hopes that the U.S. Northeast will
suffer only limited losses during the 3-day Labor Day holiday
weekend, which airlines and other businesses bank on for a
final flood of summer tourist dollars.

Many residents and business owners on Massachusetts’ Cape
Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket boarded
up windows on Thursday preparing for the worst.

The Coast Guard closed ports in southeastern Massachusetts
and Rhode Island. Dozens of flights were canceled to the area,
National Guard troops were standing by, and extra utility crews
were in place to respond to any power outages.

High surf pounded Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, with
waves as high as 10 to 12 feet, local media reported. Some
streets in downtown Nantucket were flooded as the island was
pounded by heavy rain.

Storm-related outages from North Carolina to Connecticut
knocked out power to about 3,300 customers, the U.S. Energy
Department said — a small number that showed the mild impact
of what had once shaped up to be a monster storm.

No storm has threatened such a broad swath of the U.S.
shoreline since Hurricane Bob in 1991. But as Earl moved to
Canada, U.S. East Coast residents breathed a sigh of relief.

“For the most part, it appears we have dodged a bullet,”
North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue said.

Minimal damage was reported other than beach erosion from
fierce waves on North Carolina’s Outer Banks low-lying barrier
islands. Flooding up to 3 feet (1 meter) was reported in at
least one island village, along with scattered power outages.

Waves surged over the road linking the islands, where
100,000 people were ordered to evacuate as Earl approached. But
as the storm moved away, beaches and businesses reopened.

Coastal New England endured windy, rainy weather on Friday
evening. Amtrak suspended train service between New York and
Boston after falling trees damaged wires in Connecticut.

The Boston Red Sox baseball team postponed its game due to
expected poor weather, but U.S. Open tennis in Flushing
Meadows, New York, was hit by no more than a few rain-drops.

Behind Earl, Tropical Storm Fiona weakened to a “remnant
low” on Friday as it moved north over the Atlantic toward
Bermuda, the hurricane center said. Fiona had top sustained
winds of 30 mph (45 kph) and was expected to weaken further as
it passed near the British territory on Saturday.
(Reporting by Scott Malone in Hyannis, Massachusetts, Gene
Cherry in North Carolina, Jeffrey Jones in Calgary; writing by
Matt Spetalnick and Ros Krasny; editing Anthony Boadle)

Weakened storm Earl bears down on Atlantic Canada