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Earl delivers fatal punch in Nova Scotia

After disrupting Labor Day weekend plans  millions, Earl makes a blustery landfall Saturday morning in Canada's Nova Scotia province, where one man died.
Image: A vehicle navigates around a downed tree on highway 103 near Shelburne, Nova Scotia
A vehicle navigates around a downed tree on highway 103 near Shelburne, Nova Scotia, on Saturday as the storm arrives.Paul Darrow / Reuters
/ Source: staff and news service reports

After disrupting Labor Day weekend plans for tens of millions of East Coastal residents and tourists, Earl finally made a blustery landfall Saturday morning in Canada's Nova Scotia province, where one man died.

The storm, downgraded overnight from hurricane to tropical storm, again packed hurricane-speed winds when it made landfall, and then weakened once more before heading out to the frigid Atlantic.

Winds gusting to 80 mph downed trees, flooded roads and left 200,000 customers without power. The province has a population of about 940,000.

"We are still classifying this storm as a hurricane, based on the overnight presentation of the storm on satellite and radar," said Chris Fogarty, program supervisor at Canadian Hurricane Center said at the time. "The eye is still very much intact."

However, by 11 p.m. ET, Earl's center was 660 miles northeast of Halifax, or 180 miles southwest of Mary's Harbor, Labrador. It still packed sustained winds of 65 mph. Earl was moving northeast at 46 mph. A tropical storm watch was still in effect for Newfoundland, but Earl was expected to weaken further Sunday and Monday. 

Earl was a mere shadow of the massive Category 4 hurricane that frightened the U.S. East Coast earlier in the week.

Earl had delivered heavy rain and gusty winds to parts of New England en route to Canada, but the storm stayed mostly offshore and caused far less damage than feared on its path up the U.S. coast from North Carolina.

Earl hit Western Head, Nova Scotia. It was blamed for the death of a man who drowned while trying to secure his boat after it became loose from its mooring off a bay near Halifax.

Halifax Regional Police to CBC that two men made their way at about 2 p.m. AT Saturday to a boat that had slipped its moorings at Blind Bay. Once the vessel was reattached, one of the men dived into the water to swim back to land but remained under the surface.

Police identified the man as 54-year-old Johnny Mitchell Jr. from Bayside, Nova Scotia, CBC said.

The storm brought heavy sheets of rain and swift gusts, toppling some trees and knocking out power to more than 200,000 customers in Nova Scotia. There were numerous flight and ferry cancellations. Police said the road to the popular Peggy's Cove tourist site near Halifax was closed to keep curious storm-watchers away from the dangerous, pounding surf.

The United States had got off relatively lightly from the storm, raising hopes that the Northeast would suffer only limited losses during the three-day Labor Day holiday weekend, traditionally viewed as the final surge of summer tourist dollars for airlines and other businesses.

"This traditionally for us is a sellout weekend," said Voula Nikolakopoulos, one of the owners of Tidewater Inn in West Yarmouth, on Cape Cod, where business was down 80 percent. "I understand that we have to be careful, but I think all this hype was premature."

Massachusetts suffered a few hundred power outages, a handful of downed power lines and isolated flooding. Maine saw rain and churning surf but no gusts strong enough to produce damage.

Earl had swooped into New England waters Friday night as a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph after sideswiping North Carolina's Outer Banks, where it caused flooding but no injuries and little damage. The rain it brought to Cape Cod, Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard was more typical of the nor'easters that residents have been dealing with for generations.

Winds on Nantucket blew at around 30 mph, with gusts above 40 mph. The island got more than 2 inches of rain, while adjacent Martha's Vineyard got more than 4 inches. Hyannis, home to the Kennedy family compound, got about 4.5 inches.

Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said the damage was so minimal that the agency didn't send out assessment teams as planned Saturday.

"There's nothing to assess at this point," he said. "It wasn't even a really bad rainstorm."

Gov. Deval Patrick walked around Chatham on Saturday morning, proclaiming, "The sun is out and the Cape is open for business."

Officials warned that rip currents would continue to be a concern Saturday and Sunday. With offshore seas up to 20 feet, beaches would continue to see big waves that could knock people off jetties or piers.

In central New Jersey, a body found by fishermen in an inlet Saturday was identified as that of a swimmer who went missing Thursday in rough ocean surf spawned by Earl, police said. The medical examiner's office hadn't determined the cause of death for the man, Pardip Singh, who had gone swimming with friends at Belmar, about a half-mile from where his body was recovered.