Holiday weekend vacationers kept a wary eye on the sea Saturday as Hurricane Edouard followed a northerly course parallel to the East Coast, throwing pounding surf at the beaches.
Waves piled sand on a North Carolina beach highway, and swimmers were ordered to stay out of the water on parts of New York’s Long Island. Two people drowned in heavy surf in New Jersey and one suffered a broken neck.
Though the storm was hundreds of miles offshore and not expected to affect land until Monday, forecasters predicted it would keep churning north and bypass North Carolina. A hurricane watch was in effect from Cape Charles, Va., to Plymouth, Mass., and a tropical storm warning was posted from Cape Charles to Cape Henlopen, Del.
There’s a 50 percent chance that Edouard’s eye will hit land, with Long Island or Cape Cod the most likely targets, said meteorologist Stan Goldenberg of the National Hurricane Center.
“However, there still remains a hopeful possibility that it could move off and not affect the U.S. mainland,” Goldenberg said.
At 8 p.m., Edouard, with sustained winds of 115 mph, was centered 500 miles south-southeast of Long Island. It was moving north at near 15 mph and hurricane-force winds extended out 115 miles.
Fortunately, forecasters say Edouard is weakening and likely to weaken further by this evening. If it does hit land, the hurricane is expected to be a less dangerous, with winds from 110 mph to as little as 74 mph. “It still remains a dangerous threat,” Goldenberg said.
Off Long Island’s southern coast, 8-foot seas prompted the Navy to suspend its search for wreckage from TWA Flight 800. Two salvage ships were taken to port for the first time since the search began following the July 17 crash.
At the Sheraton Atlantic Beach Hotel and Conference Center in Emerald Isle, a desk clerk joked about the secret for keeping the house full and people happy.
“We went ahead and canceled The Weather Channel in all the rooms,” desk clerk Daniel Rowe said with a laugh. “All they know is there are some big waves out here, that’s all.”
In spite of the surf, Edouard was far enough away that the weather along the shore was good.
“What storm? We don’t have any storms here,” said Tom Garvey, owner of the Atlantic Beach Causeway Marina. “It’s a normal weekend in Atlantic Beach. The sun’s out, and we’ve got a lot of customers out boating.”