Beryl comes calling

    Tropical
    Storm Beryl quietly made landfall on Nantucket early Friday, bringing a
    steady, driving rain to coastal Massachusetts. Hours later, it moved
    out to sea, leaving little but a soaking in its path.

    The storm’s center hit around 3 a.m., said Jack Beven, hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

    The wind and rain started to pick up just after midnight, said Rocky
    Fox, owner of the Chicken Box bar there. But he wasn’t scared: “It’s
    the kind that puddles quick,” he said. “To us it’s just a big old
    Nor’easter.”

    Officials said the region fared well. The Coast Guard said they hadn’t heard of problems, and no power outages were reported.

    “It looks like a gray, rainy day,” said Nantucket Fire Department Capt. Steve Murphy as he looked out the window.

    A tropical storm warning issued from the coast of Massachusetts was
    discontinued Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center
    in Miami. Areas affected included Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s
    Vineyard.

    At 5 a.m. EDT, the storm had maximum sustained winds of about 50
    mph, and was about 35 miles northeast of Nantucket. It was expected to
    weaken over the next 24 hours and lose tropical characteristics by
    Saturday morning.

    It was moving at about 21 mph and was expected to increase in speed
    Friday, forecasters said. The center of Beryl was expected to be near
    or over Nova Scotia late Friday or early Saturday.

    The Coast Guard was monitoring about 50 commercial fishing vessels
    still on the New England waters near the storm’s path late Thursday
    night, but had no reports of vessels in trouble, said Chief Petty
    Officer Scott Carr.

    A tropical storm watch had been issued for eastern Long Island and
    parts of Connecticut, but was discontinued early Friday as the storm
    moved northeast.

    Workers at Nantucket Moorings on Thursday were making sure their
    customers’ boats were tied down securely, but they weren’t panicking.

    “That’s all we can do for now — make sure lines are secure and
    people know that the storm is approaching,” said Leigh Van Hoven,
    office manager of the company, which rents and sells moorings.

    A record 28 named storms and 15 hurricanes, including destructive
    Katrina, occurred during last year’s June-November Atlantic hurricane
    season.

    The first named storm of the 2006 season, Tropical Storm Alberto,
    swept over Florida in mid-June, then plowed northward along the coast
    past the Outer Banks. It was blamed for one drowning.

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    On the Net:

    National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov 

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    Associated Press Writer Michelle Spitzer in Miami contributed to this report.

    Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press