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Tropical storm Beryl weakens <!-- END HEADLINE --> <!-- BEGIN STORY BODY -->
By Richard C. Lewis Fri Jul 21, 10:29 AM ET
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 Saturday.
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)