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Weakened Earl hits Massachusetts

A weakened Earl has hit southeastern New England, bringing heavy rain and high winds to Cape Cod, Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard.

A weakened Earl hit southeastern New England on Friday night, bringing heavy rain and high winds to Cape Cod, Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard.

By Friday evening, Earl had been downgraded to a tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 110 km/h.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Florida forecast 25 to 75 millimetres of rainfall over eastern New England.

Nantucket, closest to the storm's centre, was hit with around 38 millimetres of rain, accompanied by winds of 48 km/h.

The resort island saw some localized flooding, but it was typical of summer storms and had cleared within hours, Nantucket Assistant Town Manager Gregg Tivnan told The Associated Press. There were no evacuations, power outages or even reports of downed trees, he said.

"The south side of the island certainly did take a hit. We'll assess the damage and the erosion to the beach tomorrow, but so far don't have any report of major damage," Tivnan said late Friday.

A tropical storm warning remained in effect in parts of Massachusetts, from Woods Hole around Cape Cod to Sagamore Beach, and including Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island.

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Storefronts on Main Street in Nantucket, Mass., were boarded up Friday in advance of Hurricane Earl's anticipated arrival. ((Angela Naus/CBC))

Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts and ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to supplement state and local disaster relief.

Though Earl brought heavy rain and strong winds to North Carolina's coastal areas overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, the state "dodged a major bullet," Gov. Bev Perdue told reporters earlier Friday.

The state was "open for business," she added on Twitter.

Mark Van Sciver of the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center said officials were "very grateful" the brunt of the storm passed by.

"Swiping the coast was always better than coming ashore," he said.

Maritimes braces for storm

Earl buffeted Virginia, north of North Carolina, midmorning with rain and strong winds as it moved farther out to sea. Officials in the beach resort of Ocean City, Md., also advised people to secure trash cans, lawn furniture and other loose objects

Meanwhile, people in the Maritimes were told to brace for the storm, which could arrive at some point Saturday.

Environment Canada ramped up its weather advisories in advance of Earl's arrival.

Hurricane watches were extended to Nova Scotia's Halifax and Lunenburg counties on Friday morning. and tropical storm watches were issued for Cape Breton and Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

Areas under a tropical storm warning can expect gusts of 100 km/h and 50 to 70 millimetres of rain, CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said. 

"Once hurricane warnings are issued, forecast gusts will be up to 130 kilometres an hour," she said. "High waves and pounding surf can also be expected along south and southeast-facing coastlines."

Earl is expected to hit the Maritimes on Saturday somewhere between southwest Nova Scotia and New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy coast.

With files from The Associated Press