A weakened Hurricane Charley headed out to sea today after lashing the mid-Atlantic coast with high winds and heavy rains, causing at least five deaths and prompting thousands of coastal residents to evacuate.
The National Weather Service discontinued all hurricane watches and warnings at noon, saying that any hurricane-force winds in the system were confined to a few squalls over open water.
"We expect it to gradually decrease in the next 12 to 24 hours," said hurricane forecaster Bob Case.
Gale warnings for winds up to 55 m.p.h. remained in effect from Delaware Bay to Cape Cod, Mass.
The storm hit New Jersey's south shore today with driving rain, winds at 50 m.p.h. and gusts to 65 m.p.h.
Gamblers Bet on Safety
No evacuations were ordered in Atlantic City, where most residents and vacationers chose to ride out the storm. Most notable were the gamblers on Atlantic City's Boardwalk, who refused to desert the slot machines and crap tables.
"What hurricane? I'm not even aware of a hurricane," one gambler said.
The death toll included a 23-year-old Virginia man, whose car struck a storm-downed tree today, and three people aboard a small plane that crashed Sunday into the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore as it tried to land during a hurricane-spawned storm.