High surf a concern as Danny weakens

Posted August 29, 2009 3:07 a.m. EDT
Updated August 29, 2009 4:44 p.m. EDT

— Danny weakened from a tropical storm to a tropical depression early Saturday but was still producing a second straight weekend of dangerous surf along the East Coast.

Danny's winds slowed to 35 mph overnight while it passed about 80 miles off Cape Hatteras. A tropical storm watch for the North Carolina coast was canceled. An extratropical low was absorbing the system, weakening it more.

"It's still not looking very organized, and it's become even less so in terms of its tropical characteristics overnight," WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said.

"Basically, Danny has been swallowed by the big low," said Lixion Avila, with the National Hurricane Center.

Red flags lined the Outer Banks Saturday, announcing that conditions were too dangerous for swimming. Dare County emergency officials said treacherous rip currents were the main danger. (View rip current safety tips.)

Dozens of surfers had fun in the 4- to 9-foot seas tossed up by the storm.

"We were out at 6 (a.m.), and it was big and messy," said Clemson University student Chris Aakjers, who drove 10 hours to surf the storm-agitated sea.

"It's when the biggest waves are," he explained. "On the East Coast, it's all we get."

Locals said they were unimpressed with Danny's efforts overnight, throwing down a lot of lightning bolts and some rain.

"I'm not even worried about it," said Jay Parr, owner of a bait-and-tackle store in Buxton. "It just slows the fishing down, with it turning the ocean up so much."

Danny passed by North Carolina around lunchtime and continue to turn to the north.

"It looks like the storm is going to rush on off to the north and northeast today, and downgrade even more to even an extra-tropical storm by the time it gets east of New England and then head on up across the Canadian Maritimes and into the North Atlantic," Moss said.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation closed beaches in five communities until further notice. The agency also canceled all public ferry service in and around Boston on Saturday, citing potential high seas, strong currents and heavy rain. State authorities urged boaters to have their vessels securely moored by Friday night.