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Tropical storm watch issued for Massachusetts as Beryl goes north

Tropical Storm Beryl gained strength Wednesday as it pulled away from the North Carolina coast and headed toward New England.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a tropical storm watch for southeastern Massachusetts, from Plymouth south and west to Woods Hole, including Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Colin McAdie, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said offshore areas of Massachusetts could get some wind as the storm passes by.

“This would be probably early morning hours Friday,” McAdie said.

At about 11 p.m. EDT, the storm’s maximum sustained winds were near 60 mph, above the 39 mph threshold for a named storm but below hurricane strength of 74 mph. Some increase in strength was expected overnight with weakening by late Thursday, the hurricane center said.

The storm was centered about 265 miles south of New York City or about 335 miles south-southwest of Nantucket. It was moving north-northeast at about 9 mph, and that direction was expected to continue for the next 24 hours with a turn to the northeast by late Thursday.

The new tropical storm watch came several hours after meteorologists canceled a watch for North Carolina’s northern coast as Beryl passed about 100 miles offshore. McAdie said Beryl could get a bit stronger in the next 36 hours, but would weaken once moving over cooler waters.

“We’re expecting it to continue to move northward off the United States and to continue to track northward and remain offshore,” McAdie said.

Initial warnings about the second tropical storm of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season did little to deter golfers, boaters or fishermen in North Carolina. Beryl did churn up some surf and some clouds, but it wasn’t nearly enough weather to slow the fishermen and funseekers on the state’s Outer Banks.

“It was blowing 15 to 20 (mph) and the sea was rolling up a little bit, but we’ve fished in worse,” said Brynner Parks, 48, after a day on his 58-foot commercial fishing boat with six clients from Maryland and their catch, about 800 pounds of yellowfin tuna.

All along the state’s northern coast, vacationers and natives alike enjoyed a mostly typical summer day at the beach. Officials in Dare County said they closely watched Beryl overnight, but were assured by officials at the National Weather Service there was nothing to worry about.

“We never actually activated in any regard,” said county spokeswoman Dorothy Toolan. “This never elevated to that level.”

As temperatures crept into the 90s, beaches filled with portable umbrellas and beach towels although few people swam in the churning waves because of strong rip currents pushed in by the storm.

“Usually, we’ll just keep our eyes on the storm and go surfing,” said Christine Taylor, a 21-year-old Virginia Tech student. “The waves weren’t that good today, actually.”

Last year’s June-November Atlantic hurricane season saw a record 28 named storms and 15 hurricanes, including destructive Katrina.

The first named storm of 2006 season, Tropical Storm Alberto, splashed ashore in Florida in mid-June.