Weakened Hurricane Earl Threatens New England, Canada

Tropical storm threatens Cape Cod, Nantucket, New England and Canada.

Sept. 3, 2010— -- Alhough it was downgraded to a tropical storm, Earl continued to threaten New England, with about 25 million people in its path.

Earl was reclassified as a tropical storm late Friday just before 11 p.m. as its maximum sustained winds dropped to 70 miles per hour, far below its strength at its peak as a Category 4 hurricane before it threatened the North Carolina coast earlier this week.

Earl was expected to continue weakening, but it could still bring dangerous winds to Cape Cod, Mass., and other coastal areas overnight. Earl was scheduled to pass near or slightly east of Cape Cod and reach the coast of Nova Scotia,Canada, Saturday.

However, with Earl's downgrade to a tropical storm, hurricane warnings around Cape Cod were downgraded to tropical storm warnings.

Just as it was downgraded to a tropical storm. Earl was tracking northeast at 25 mph and accelerating.

The storm sideswiped North Carolina's Outer Banks Thursday evening, sending bands of wind and rain raking over the coast. The surging waves pounded low-lying barrier islands, the areas most exposed to Earl, causing flooding but no major damage or injuries.

"Certainly, conditions are not as severe as they could have been," Sandy Sanderson, the director of emergency services in Dare County, told Reuters.

Rough Seas Blamed for at Least 1 Death

Rough surf from Earl and an earlier storm, Danielle, have been blamed for at least one death in New Jersey, and officials have called off the search for a second storm victim in the state.

Pardip Singh, 20, was last seen entering the ocean Thursday night in Belmar, N.J., but he has not been seen since.

The first storm victim, Franky Lezin, 23, drowned Tuesday, but his body wasn't recovered until Thursday.

State of Emergency

Earl was a powerful Category 4 storm Thursday. Although it was downgraded to tropical storm status, New Englanders still were bracing for its impact.

President Obama signed an emergency disaster declaration for Massachusetts late Thursday.

On Thursday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency before the storm after officials extended a hurricane warning to the state's southern coast.

"The state of emergency here in the commonwealth remains in effect," Patrick said Friday. "The threat to the public remains tonight."

Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri made a similar emergency declaration, The Associated Press reported.

In neighboring Connecticut, Gov. M. Jodi Rell asked Obama to issue a pre-landfall declaration of emergency to ensure federal funding help with the storm response.

Before dropping to tropical storm strength, Earl raised the specter of Hurricane Bob in 1991. That storm hit Cape Cod with 125 mph winds, causing 20 deaths and nearly $2 billion in damages.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent supplies to Massachusetts, including about 200,000 meals and 162,000 liters of water.

On Thursday, the American Red Cross dispatched more than 350 disaster workers to North Carolina, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to staff shelters.

Bill Read of the National Weather Center told ABC News' "Good Morning America" today that residents can expect high seas, strong winds and beach erosion.

In New York this afternoon, tennis players at the U.S. Open were pulled off the court as Earl's rain bands began to darken the skies.

Rain and high winds also swept New York's Long Island and parts of New England.

Storm Disrupts Air Travel

Earl is causing major travel delays during this holiday weekend. Amtrak has canceled trains to Newport News, Va., from other parts of Virginia.

At least 50 Continental flights have been canceled from Newark, N.J., and Delta began canceling flights Thursday.

Most of the major airlines are waiving fees so passengers at potentially affected airports can rebook their flights for a later date. So far, refunds are available only if a flight has been canceled.

Links to specific airlines for more information can be found below.

ABC News' Michael S. James, Gerard McNiff, Steve Osunsami, Bradley Blackburn and Lee Ferran contributed to this report.

Residents can monitor the hurricane's location on the National Hurricane Center's website.

Information on cancellations and refunds for airlines follows: Delta American UnitedContinental US Airways Southwest JetBlueAirTran Virgin America Spirit