July 21, 2006

Tropical storm Beryl weakens

By Richard C. Lewis

NARRAGANSETT, Rhode Island (Reuters) - Tropical Storm
Beryl, the second of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season,
whipped up chest-high waves as it blew over Nantucket island on
Friday before weakening and heading out to sea.

Beryl hit the southeastern Massachusetts island at about 3
a.m. (0700 GMT) with winds of up to 44 mph (71 kph), before
encountering colder air over the Atlantic Ocean and dissipating
into a milder storm, the National Weather Service said.

Beryl felt like a mild "Nor'easter," with wind gusts and
heavy rain, said locals in Nantucket, a historic whaling port
and upscale resort area.

"It wasn't a storm, really," said Sophia Orr of Island
Coffee, a bakery and cafe on Nantucket's Steamboat Wharf.

A tropical storm warning was lifted across southeastern
Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, although the storm may cause
higher tides than normal.

Beryl brought up to 3 inches of rain off the coast and the
islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, but the center of
Nantucket received only with about half an inch (1.3 cm) of
rain, Bill Simpson of the National Weather Service in
Massachusetts said.

At 5 a.m. (0900 GMT), the storm system was moving northeast
at about 21 mph (33 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center in
Miami said.

Beryl drew dozens of surfers to Rhode Island's popular
Narragansett Bay beaches.

"The waves were better, so I was excited. You caught a few
and they were great," surfer Mark Osman, 30, said.

Locals on Cape Cod, a popular summer holiday destination,
said Beryl caused barely a ripple. "It's weakened a lot," said
Pat Smith of Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth on Cape
Cod. "It's actually fairly decent out."

Beryl's likely path would take its remnants over or near
the Canadian province of Nova Scotia by late Friday or

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.

(Additional reporting by Chris Wilson in Washington and
Jason Szep in Boston)