Fla. Panhandle braces for Earl

PANAMA BEACH, Fla. -- This city and the rest of the Florida Panhandle was bracing for Hurricane Earl and its 90 mph winds as of Wednesday afternoon -- and writing off the holiday weekend.

The Labor Day weekend, a peak period for the area, appeared to be beyond salvage, even if Earl does minimal damage. Most of the Panhandle's guests drive in from surrounding states, where they would likely encounter storm-related problem. Florida hotels along the Gulf of Mexico reported losing reservations even when vacationers thought the storm would hit Louisiana, and leave the Panhandle with only rain.

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