BAYSHORE, N.Y. (CBS 2 / WCBS 880/1010 WINS/AP) —Earl was weakening as it headed toward New England, and the once-powerful hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say the storm is still expected to bring strong winds and rain to portions of New England. Earl is expected to pass offshore of Cape Cod overnight and reach the coast of Nova Scotia on Saturday.

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Earl was downgraded shortly after 10:30 p.m. Friday from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm, with winds of 70 mph.

Much of the Jersey Shore was spared, but residents on Long Island’s East End faced some slick roads and deep puddles as Earl brushed alongside the area.  Overall, however, Suffolk County officials said no evacuations had to be made, no shelters had to be utilized and no rescues had to be undertaken.

Earl’s quick exit now clears the way for a windy, sunny and cooler Labor Day weekend.

Beaches were closed Friday, boats pulled out of the water, ferry and train service stopped and campgrounds shut down as a precaution.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports from Montauk
CBS News Early Show weatherman Dave Price in Ocean City, MD
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall – with beach patrols in Montauk
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams – late night swim leaves man dead off Belmar
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond – folks in awe of big waves in Point Pleasant

EXTRAS: Storm Tracker | Hurricane & Tropical Storm Guide

Extensive beach erosion was still expected from Earl’s winds and heavy rainfall.

By Friday night at Jones Beach, volleyball and shuffleboard courts were flooded, as was the park’s smaller band shell, where scheduled events had been canceled through the weekend, said George Gorman, spokesman for the state Parks Department.

In Montauk-area parks, the water had covered the beach and reached as far as the dunes. It was not yet clear how much erosion would be caused, he said.

Waves hit the shore as Hurricane Earl approaches Long Island - Montauk, NY - Sep 3, 2010 - Photo: Sophia Hall / WCBS 880

Suffolk County officials took no chances Friday. All county beaches and ocean-based campsites were closed until Saturday morning.

Earl also played a role in disrupting holiday travel.

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Amtrak suspended train service between New York and Boston until Saturday morning. The rail carrier had planned to stop service by 4:30 p.m., but trains were stopped earlier when a tree fell across electrical lines in New London, Conn.

That decision left Matthew Helman of Easton, Connecticut frustrated and looking for a plan B.

“I’m going to have to look at other ways, maybe spend the night in the city, its going to be ridiculous,” Helman told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

One Massachusetts resident said she was trying to get home from a 2 week trip to South Carolina. Despite the service cancellation, she said help was on the way.

“My son is going to drive all the way down from Massachusetts to come get me because he feels I will be stuck with all the buses, cause everyone is trying to catch a bus,” she said.

The LIRR suspended service east of Speonk and of Ronkonkoma on Friday but the railroad says full service should resume by Saturday morning.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey expected nearly 3 million travelers to pass through its airports, bridges, tunnels and rail system over Labor Day weekend.

“We are making sure construction sites at our facilities are tied down, making sure sewers are not blocked by debris and that electrical backups are at the ready,” Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said.

Marsico urged travelers to call airlines to make sure their flights were running on schedule.

Barnegat Light fishing fleet tied to docks, Sept. 3, 2010. (Photo/John Montone)

Several major airlines were waiving change fees, allowing passengers more flexibility to avoid possible storm-related delays and cancellations.

The fees are waived Friday, and in some cases throughout the weekend.

Additionally, ferry service to and from Fire Island will be suspended after 3 p.m. Friday and resumes 7 a.m. on Saturday.

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