Bill weakens as it approaches U.S.

SUNDAY, AUG. 23, 2009

EDGARTOWN, Mass. – A weakening Hurricane Bill spun northward Saturday, churning up rough seas, creating dangerous riptides and closing beaches to swimmers up and down the eastern seaboard, including President Barack Obama’s planned vacation spot, Martha’s Vineyard.

The Category 1 hurricane was expected to pass the mainland well off New England, but was still packing high winds and waves that had safety officials urging extreme caution.

At Robert Moses State Park in New York, the beach was shut down as the high tide submerged the sand, though the beach opened later Saturday for sunbathing. Along some beaches in Delaware and New Jersey, no swimming was allowed.

Late Saturday evening, Bill had maximum sustained winds near 85 mph and was about 200 miles south-southeast of Nantucket, Mass., according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

A tropical storm warning remained in effect late Saturday night for Massachusetts, including the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

The worst of Bill was expected to pass about 150 to 200 miles east of Martha’s Vineyard before Obama’s arrival today. The Obamas delayed their planned morning departure from Andrews Air Force Base to this afternoon because of the weather, White House aides said.

On Saturday, nearly all south-facing beaches on the island were closed to swimmers and large signs blocked roadways to shorefronts.


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