Hurricane Bill trekked north toward eastern Canada on Saturday, buffeting the U.S. East Coast with dangerous heavy swells after brushing Bermuda with rain and powerful churning surf.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Bill, still a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of near 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour), would reach waters just south of Nova Scotia in Canada in 24 hours.

Canadian authorities issued selective hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings for its Atlantic maritime provinces, specifically parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. On its current track, Bill could threaten some oil and natural gas platforms and refineries in east Canada.

A tropical storm warning also went into effect on Saturday for parts of the United States' Massachusetts coast, including the island of Martha's Vineyard, where President Barack Obama and his family are due to start a summer vacation on Sunday.

At 11 a.m. EDT on Saturday, the center of Bill, the first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic season, was located about 435 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and about 710 miles south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the U.S. National Hurricane center said.

The NHC said some fluctuations in Bill's intensity were possible on Saturday followed by a weakening later as the center moved north of the warm Gulf Stream.

Large swells generated by Bill were pummeling the U.S. East Coast on Saturday and the NHC said they could whip up dangerous surf and rip currents. In New York and elsewhere on the eastern coast, authorities closed some beaches to swimmers as a precaution.

The swells were expected to start affecting the Canadian Atlantic maritime regions later on Saturday and on Sunday.


Earlier on Saturday, Bill dumped rain on Bermuda and pushed powerful rolling surf onto the shores of the 20 square mile (53 sq km) British territory, which is a center for the global insurance industry.

But no casualties were immediately reported and damage appeared to have been minor.

Bermudians, who are used to Atlantic storms, were shrugging off the hurricane.

We've had worse, but it's better to be safe than sorry, said Robert Marquez, front desk manager at Bermuda's upscale The Reefs Hotel.

Earlier in the week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had wrapped up a brief private vacation in Bermuda and left the island on Thursday before the storm.

U.S. forecasters were also keeping watch on a tropical wave off the Atlantic coast of Africa, 750 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands.

There was less than a 30 percent chance it would grow into a tropical cyclone in the next two days, they said.