[Editor's Note: My thanks to all who assisted in the effort
to tame this storm from hurrincane force back to tropical depression status.
The huge Corona
Mass Ejection from the sun, reported by ZS Livingstone, apparently also
played a significant role in terminating HAARP's control of this storm.
We need to keep vigilant with this storm until it dissapates completely-and
then prepare for the next one with more timely counteraction and
focused intention. God Bless all who participated in this effort,
Ledoux's timely alarm..Ken]
WILMINGTON, North Carolina (AP) -- Ophelia kept up its teasing
dance along the coast of the Carolinas on Monday, dropping slightly in strength
from hurricane to tropical storm as it barely moved toward land.
Although Ophelia was centered more than 200 miles offshore,
nonresidents were ordered to leave one of North Carolina's Outer Banks islands
and 300 National Guard troops were sent to mustering points along the coast.
School systems in five counties closed, even though the storm's eye was
predicted to remain offshore until Wednesday.
Many people acknowledged they were paying closer attention
to Ophelia because of the vast destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina along
the Gulf Coast. Others insisted they wouldn't let the milder storm disrupt
"My family is all coming in for a family reunion, including
my 84-year-old mother," said Dodie Curtis, 62, of Gilford, Maine, on
the shore at Wrightsville Beach. "This is our family thing, and we
don't plan to go anywhere unless it gets a lot worse."
Any appearances to the contrary, Gov. Mike Easley said the
state was doing its normal storm preparation.
"We have, unfortunately, a great deal of experience with
hurricanes. I think one of the things people in North Carolina will be able
to recognize is that this is the exact same pattern we always follow,"
Ophelia was a minimal hurricane early Monday with sustained
winds of 75 mph, but by midday it had weakened to about 70 mph, 4 mph below
the threshold, the National Hurricane Center said.
Meteorologists warned, though, that the system had the potential
to regain hurricane strength in the next day or so. A tropical storm warning
and a hurricane watch remained in effect from Cape Lookout south to Edisto
Beach, South Carolina.
At 5 p.m. ET, Ophelia was centered about 165 miles east-southeast
of Charleston, South Carolina, and 260 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras,
the hurricane center said. It was moving northwest at about 3 mph.
With the storm's path uncertain, South Carolina Gov. Mark
Sanford called for a voluntary evacuation Monday of oceanfront and riverside
areas in his state's northeastern corner. He was joined by officials in
North Carolina's adjacent Brunswick County.
The storm's slow movement is its primary danger, bringing
the likelihood that it will hang over eastern North Carolina for days, Easley
Floods, prolonged power outages and severe wind damage were
possible as Ophelia crawled north from Wilmington to the Pamlico Sound,
Easley ordered the National Guard to eastern North Carolina
on Sunday, accompanied by swift-water and urban search and rescue teams,
as well as seven helicopters.
He also ordered a mandatory evacuation of visitors from fragile
Ocracoke Island, which is reachable only by ferry. Highway Patrol officers
helped with the Ocracoke evacuation Monday.
The Coast Guard closed state ports in Morehead City and Wilmington
"I don't think I would be human if I said Katrina had
no impact on me," Wilmington Mayor Spence Broadhurst said after emerging
from a meeting where he helped decide to call for voluntary evacuations.
Ophelia became a tropical storm Wednesday off the Florida
coast. It is the 15th named storm and seventh hurricane in this year's busy
Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends November 30.
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