BOSTON (Reuters) - The remnants of Hurricane Noel, the deadliest storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, battered the New England coast on Saturday with winds gusting up to 71 miles per hour and heavy rain.
About 25,000 homes and businesses had lost power by late afternoon, with forecasters expecting the "Nor'easter" storm to reach its peak strength around 8 p.m.
The 14th named storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season had already left more than 120 people dead and tens of thousands homeless in the Caribbean, primarily in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the island of Hispaniola.
Cape Cod, a tourist enclave on a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, and the island of Nantucket were now bearing the brunt of the storm, with sustained winds of 56 mph, according to Bill Simpson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.
"We're looking at probably 25,000 customers in eastern Massachusetts without power, about 18,000 customers on the Cape itself," said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, which activated its emergency operations center for the storm.
"We do have pre-positioned National Guard assets and utility assets around the state so that if this does kick up we can respond," he said.
Television reports showed waves pounding the shore, and the wind starting to lift the roof shingles of some beachfront homes, though no fatalities or major property damage were reported. Forecasters warned that north-facing beaches along the Cape would face the worst flooding.
Meteorologists predicted a 2.5 foot storm surge along the Cape, with sea waves topping 20 feet.
Rhode Island and coastal regions of New Hampshire and Maine were also feeling the storm's effects and the U.S. Coast Guard warned boaters of dangerous conditions.