Hurricane Bill has weakened but is still wreaking havoc

The Associated PressAugust 23, 2009 

— A weakening Hurricane Bill spun northward Saturday, churning up rough seas, creating dangerous rip currents 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.

"It's just too dangerous right now," Rehoboth Beach Patrol Capt. Kent Buckson said.

On Saturday evening, Bill had maximum sustained winds near 85 mph and was about 300 miles south- southeast of Nantucket, Mass., and about 585 miles south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

A tropical storm warning was issued for Massachusetts, including Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, meaning tropical storm-force winds of 40 mph or more could hit the coastline in the next 24 hours.

The storm was expected to reach Canadian waters early today; the Canadian Hurricane Center on Saturday issued a hurricane watch for areas of Nova Scotia, where winds speeds could hit 74 mph with gusts of 87 mph.

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