Weaker Earl Takes Aim at New England

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Hurricane Earl has weakened to a Category 1 storm but still poses a threat to parts of the Northeast. By Friday afternoon Earl's winds topped out at about 85 mph.

Overnight the eye of the storm passed just east of North Carolina's Outer Banks, bringing pounding waves and near-hurricane force winds. Some beaches along the East Coast saw waves as high as 20 feet.

Although Hurricane Earl has weakened, residents and tourists from New Jersey to Canada are still bracing for high winds, rain and rough surf.

"It wouldn't take very much deviation in the direction the center moves as it goes further up the East Coast to have a direct impact on where the coastline sticks out, namely southeast Massachusetts, the Cape, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard," National Hurricane Center meteorologist Bill Read explained.

Click play to watch complete Hurricane Earl coverage from accross the East Coast with CBN News reporters Efrem Graham, Mark Martin and Jennifer Wishon.  Accuweather.com meteorologist Jim Kosek also gives the latest weather tracking.

The governors of Rhode Island and Massachusetts have already declared emergencies. Earl is the most severe storm to threaten New England in nearly 20 years.

"We have a lot of coastline communities that could be impacted even by a relatively minor weather situations," said Robert Kenny, emergency management area coordinator at the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management.

Officials are warning tourists that Earl's dangers may remain long after his winds and rain have moved on.

"We expect strong rip currents and strong winds throughout the weekend," Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, said.

Already there have been some scary moments for tourists hoping for one last swim off New York's Long Island before Earl passes by.

"There's an undertow, can really push you out very far so you have to be very careful," Joe Motta, Long Island resident, said. "I actually saw one of the kids get rescued by a lifeguard."

"People were going in and getting knocked down just when they're up to their shins really and the water was coming up and washing out everybody's little blanket area," said Andrea Laurino, another Long Island resident.

No matter which path the storm ultimately takes, Earl is putting a damper on Labor Day tourism along the East Coast. As the last official weekend of summer for many businesses, Labor Day weekend is the icing on summer's economic cake.

Businesses like Jeanne Young's Deep Sea Fishing Tours in Maine are missing out on the final weekend due to high seas.

"It's going to hurt business a lot," Young said. "A good Labor Day weekend can be very busy."

Officials said they don't want people to panic but want to make sure they are prepared as Earl marches north.

So far, there have been no reports of injuries or major damage, but parts of North Carolina are still without power.

Are you prepared for an emergency? September is National Preparedness Month. Find out what you should do to be prepared. 

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