Hurricane Earl, once a fearsome category 4 storm, left a trail of damage in its wake. But the damage to the U.S. east coast wasn’t physical. It was to the travel industry’s pocketbook.
As the storm neared… so did the Labor Day Holiday weekend. 250,000 vacationers were expected to descend on east coast beaches. It appeared that holiday travelers and Hurricane Earl would collide, or be a near miss at best.
Earl’s category level slowly climbed as it swerved toward North Carolina. At one point it reached sustained winds of 145 mph, with gusts up to 175 mph, and was labeled a category 4 hurricane.
Cancellations flooded hotels, airlines, and vacation rentals as Earl loomed closer and closer. But Earl stayed off shore, causing heavy rains and rough surf, but relatively little damage. Locals described it as being similar to a Nor’easter, which they deal with regularly.
Earl is now just a tropical storm, and is headed off over Novia Scotia and then back out to sea, as it continues to weaken. But the damage to an already weak economy along the east coast has been done. Hotels that were 100% booked last Labor Day weekend, are reporting 20% occupancy last night. Many are slashing prices to tempt last minute vacationers.
The weather forecast for the remainder of the holiday weekend calls for cooler temperatures, breezy conditions, with sunshine and occasional showers possible along the east coast.