July 20, 2006

Tropical storm weakens as it heads for Cape Cod

MIAMI (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Beryl, the second cyclone
of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, weakened on Thursday as
it headed toward Cape Cod and other popular northeastern U.S.
vacation playgrounds.

Beryl's sustained winds dropped to 50 mph (80 kph) as it
churned through the Atlantic on a path expected to take it near
or over Nantucket Island and southeastern Cape Cod later on
Thursday or early on Friday.

The storm's most likely path, according to the U.S.
National Hurricane Center in Miami, would take it over the
Canadian province of Nova Scotia on Friday, but it was expected
to weaken further and lose its tropical characteristics.

At 11 p.m. (0300 GMT), Beryl's center was about 100 miles

southwest of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and the system was
moving northeast at about 13 mph (20 kph), the hurricane center

A tropical storm warning, meaning residents could see storm
conditions within 24 hours, was in effect from Plymouth to
Woods Hole, Massachusetts, including the summer vacation
destinations of Cape Cod, Nantucket Island and Martha's

A tropical storm watch, meaning storm conditions were
possible within 36 hours, was also imposed from west of Woods
Hole to New Haven, Connecticut, and eastern Long Island.

Rainfall from Beryl was already affecting Long Island and
the New England coast, the hurricane center said. Tropical
storms rarely pose a threat to developed countries but can
bring torrential rain.

Forecasters expect a busy June 1-November 30 Atlantic
hurricane season this year, with up to 17 tropical storms.

Last year saw a record 28 tropical storms, 15 of which
strengthened into hurricanes with winds of at least 74 mph (119
kph). Among them was Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New
Orleans, killed more than 1,300 people and became the costliest
natural disaster in U.S. history.

The first tropical storm of the 2006 season, Alberto, came
harmlessly ashore in the Florida Panhandle on June 13.