Danny weakens to tropical depression but will still produce dangerous surf

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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CAROLINA BEACH, North Carolina _ Danny weakened to a tropical depression early Saturday but was still expected to produce a second straight weekend of dangerous surf along the U.S. East Coast.

Large waves and treacherous rip currents were forecast from the Carolinas to New England, though National Hurricane Center forecasters said Danny had been mostly absorbed by a low pressure system associated with a cold front over North Carolina.

``We were expecting that that was going to happen sooner or later. It happened a little bit sooner,' said senior hurricane specialist Lixion Avila. ``Basically Danny has been swallowed by the big low.'

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Jimena rapidly strengthened in the Pacific Ocean south of Mexico. Jimena, the 10th named storm of the Pacific season, had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph) and could become a major hurricane during the next couple of days, forecasters said.

Jimena was projected to track north-northwest off the Mexican and southern Baja Peninsula coasts over the next few days.

Tropical storm watches for the North Carolina coast were discontinued, but people up and down the Eastern Seaboard were urged to be cautious near the water.

The dangers of storm-agitated seas were demonstrated when a young boy disappeared Friday in rough surf off North Carolina. His mother reported seeing him go underwater off the town of Corolla, not far from the Virginia line. His body board washed ashore without him.

The Coast Guard and local authorities spent hours looking for the 12-year-old boy but called off the search Friday evening.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. j.g. Scott Hembrook said the waves in the area were about 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 metres) tall.

``What the storm is doing is creating a particularly strong undertow' that can pull swimmers to the bottom, he said. Undertow is created as water that has crashed onshore rushes back out to sea.

Farther north, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation was closing beaches in five communities until further notice. The agency also cancelled 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.

Early Saturday, the remnants of Danny were located about 80 miles (130 km) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Maximum sustained winds were near 35 mph (55 kph).

On the Outer Banks island of Ocracoke, Anchorage Marina dock master Robert Raborn said Friday that the warnings of rough seas prompted the usual stream of weekend boaters crossing the Pamlico Sound to cancel reservations for overnight docking space.

___

Associated Press writer Emery P. Dalesio in Raleigh contributed to this story.

Organizations: National Hurricane Center, Coast Guard, Massachusetts Department of Associated Press

Geographic location: North Carolina, CAROLINA BEACH, U.S. East Coast New England Pacific Ocean Mexico Southern Baja Peninsula Eastern Seaboard Corolla Virginia Boston Cape Hatteras Outer Banks island Ocracoke Raleigh

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