After generating waves as high as 49 feet and causing up to $150 million in damage in the Caribbean, according to estimates by assessment teams on each island, relentless Hurricane Earl is poised to take a swipe at the Eastern Seaboard this weekend.
The Category 4 storm with gusts of 145 mph roared northwest on Thursday toward the Carolinas, forcing evacuations along the Outer Banks barrier islands.
Airlines have waived change fees for customers flying into the path of Hurricane Earl, including Continental, AirTran, American, Delta, Frontier, US Airways and Spirit. The hurricane threatens to disrupt flight schedules just as the Labor Day holiday weekend begins.
After knocking nearly a dozen cruise ships sailing in the Caribbean off course this week, northbound Hurricane Earl now is wreaking havoc with vessels that sail to New England, Canada and Bermuda.
Holland America Line's Maasdam, currently on a seven-night voyage to Canada and New England, returns to its home port of Boston on Thursday, two days ahead of schedule. Calls at Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Bar Harbor, Maine, have been scratched.
HAL's Eurodam, currently on a transtlantic cruise to New York, will call Friday at Halifax instead of Sydney. The Veendam will depart Hamilton, Bermuda earlier than scheduled on Friday en route to New York.
Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess will skip Thursday’s call in Halifax and sail directly for New York, pulling into a Manhattan berth on Friday for the day. Early on Saturday, the ship will move to its normal berth at the Brooklyn cruise terminal and allow passengers to disembark later that morning.
The Carnival Miracle will pull into New York late Friday, half a day ahead of schedule from an eight-day cruise to the Bahamas. The Carnival Pride is skipping its scheduled call in Freeport on Friday and is proceeding directly to Baltimore.
Tropical Storm Fiona remained north of the Caribbean and is forecasted to move toward Bermuda over the next several days and then fizzle out.
Gaston, the seventh named storm of the season, formed far out in the Atlantic on Wednesday and is expected to strengthen into a hurricane this weekend as it moves toward the Leeward Islands.