Earl to Pass Wide of NJ Coastline

Jersey shore residents can breathe a sigh of relief

|  Thursday, Jun 30, 2011  |  Updated 2:34 PM EDT
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It's been nearly 200 years since a hurricane scored a direct hit on New Jersey, and that streak will continue.

Hurricane Earl is forecast to pass 150 to 200 miles off the state's coast Friday but hit close to Long Island and Cape Cod and Nantucket in Massachusetts.

The storm is expected to bring a half-inch of rain to the New Jersey shoreline and winds of 30 to 35 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.

Rough surf in the days leading up to Earl's approach has claimed the life of one swimmer at the Jersey shore, and a second is missing.

Authorities in Belmar are searching for a 20-year-old man who was swimming with a group Thursday night, but failed to emerge from the water. Earlier that day, the body of a 23-year-old Asbury Park man was recovered from the surf. Franky Lezin had been missing since Tuesday.

Beaches in many Jersey shore communities have been restricted or closed to swimmers altogether since last weekend because of rough surf and punishing high waves generated by Hurricane Danielle and then by Earl's approach.

The National Weather Service says the storm was 125 to 150 miles off the Virginia-North Carolina border as of 8 a.m. Rainfall had yet to begin in New Jersey, where surfers were reveling in big waves generated by the storm.

A powerful storm hit near Atlantic City in 1903, but winds had dissipated to tropical storm level — about 47 mph — when it came ashore.

Before that, a Category 3 hurricane hit Cape May Point in 1821.

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