Local News

Tropical Storm Watch Canceled In N.C. As Beryl Stays Offshore

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KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. — Forecasters canceled a tropical storm watch for the North Carolina coast Wednesday as Tropical Storm Beryl continued to head north, with the worst of its rain and wind remaining well out to sea.

"We got a light wind, a little cloudy," said Howard Rall, the manager of the Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills on the state's Outer Banks. "We've had worse northeasters."

Coastal storm warnings and the threat of the second tropical storm of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season did little to deter either the natives or the tourists: Golfers hit the links, boats headed out to sea, and early morning fishermen were trying their luck at Rall's pier.

"It's pretty good fishing: Blues, Spanish, some spot and mullet," Rall said.

At 11 a.m., Beryl was centered about 105 miles east northeast of Cape Hatteras. It was moving north at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, just over the 39 mph threshold for a named storm and well below hurricane strength of 74 mph.

The storm was a "little better" organized as of 11 a.m., and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Beryl could gain strength over the next 24 hours. But a U.S. landfall wasn't expected.

"Beryl is going to continue moving northward for the next several days, skirting the eastern coast of the United States," said Colin MacAdie, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Last year's June-November Atlantic hurricane season saw a record 28 named storms and 15 hurricanes, including destructive Katrina.

The first named storm of 2006 season, Tropical Storm Alberto, splashed ashore in Florida in mid-June, then plowed northward along the coast past North Carolina's Outer Banks. It was blamed for one drowning.

"Late yesterday, everyone was kind of waiting to see what would happen overnight," said Dare County spokeswoman Dorothy Toolan. "Certainly, everyone has their eyes on the storm, there's no question about that. I think most folks will be relieved to see that track keeps it well offshore."

Count Kim Theodoroff among them. The 50-year-old restaurant owner from Wisconsin was relieved the storm had passed, allowing her to keep plans to go hang-gliding above the sand dunes of the Outer Banks.

"I was nervous," she said. "I'm only here for a week, and the two days we're at the beach a storm hits? Figures. It was a running joke there'd be a hurricane."

But friend Pam Taylor was disappointed the storm didn't get a little closer to shore.

"It's supposed to be beautiful right before the storm and after, the surf and the sky," said Taylor, a 41-year-old high school guidance counselor from Wisconsin.