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Bill weakens to Category 2 hurricane

  • Story Highlights
  • Hurricane Bill downgraded to Category 2 storm
  • Hurricane expected to pelt Bermuda with 1 to 3 inches of rain
  • Battering waves developing on parts of U.S. East Coast
  • Bill is expected to pass between Bermuda and East Coast
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Hurricane Bill weakened Friday afternoon to a Category 2 hurricane, with its maximum sustained winds at 105 mph, forecasters said.

Hurricane Bill is expected to pass between Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast over the weekend.

Hurricane Bill is expected to pass between Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast over the weekend.

As of 11 p.m. Friday, Bill's center was about 180 miles west-southwest of Bermuda, and about 545 miles east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Its forward speed had increased to about 20 mph as it continued moving north-northwest, forecasters said. The storm was expected to gradually turn toward the north late Friday and into Saturday. See Bill's projected path »

If the storm follows its current track, it should pass over the open water between Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast on Saturday, forecasters said.

Earlier Friday, Bill's outer bands began producing rain in Bermuda as the storm neared the British territory, the hurricane center said. Forecasters expect Bill to pelt Bermuda with 1 to 3 inches of rain, although up to 5 inches is possible. iReport.com: Bermuda's preparations

The storm also was beginning to affect the U.S. East Coast, where dangerous rip currents and battering waves were developing, said CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras.

Rip currents form as wind and waves push water against the shore, where it is caught behind an obstacle such as a sandbar until it breaks free, sending a strong channel of water flowing away from the shoreline.

The large swells are expected to affect most of the U.S. East Coast within the next couple of days, the hurricane center said.

There were reports of waves at the center of the storm as high as 54 feet, Jeras said.

With Bill advancing, the Bermuda Weather Service forecasts the storm tide will raise water levels by as much as 3 feet along the coast and produce large, battering waves. Large swells were affecting Puerto Rico, the island of Hispaniola and the Bahamas to the south, the agency said.

Bermuda remained under a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch. The warning means winds of at least 39 mph are expected within 24 hours, while the watch indicates winds of at least 74 mph are possible within 36 hours.

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Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 85 miles from the center and storm-force winds outward as much as 275 miles, the hurricane center said.

Forecasters advised people along the New England coast and in the Canadian Maritime provinces to monitor Bill's progress.

All About National Hurricane CenterBermuda

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