By David Bailey
July 5 (Reuters) - Cyclone Arthur pelted parts of far eastern Maine and southeastern Canada with heavy rain and strong winds on Saturday, as the storm that had been a hurricane swept away from southern New England.
Arthur, which weakened to a tropical storm on Saturday morning, had earlier reached Category 2 hurricane status and made landfall on North Carolina's Outer Banks late on Thursday, snarling plans for tourists at the start of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
North Carolina reported only slight damage from the hurricane, which quickly traveled northeast and on Saturday morning was centered about 50 miles (80 km) north-northwest of the Canadian town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
"It has lost some strength, although it still has 65 mph winds," said Daniel Brown, a senior hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center. "Basically, it lost its tropical characteristics and has become more a wintertime type low."
The center of Arthur was expected to move near or over western Nova Scotia in the next few hours and over the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday night.
The storm was moving to the north-northeast at about 23 mph (37 kph) at 8 a.m. Eastern Time and was expected to slow down and weaken over the next day or more, the center said.
Arthur was the first hurricane to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey in October 2012, causing an estimated $70 billion in damage.
In Maine, some communities reported power outages and trees down, but no injuries, said Dustin Jordan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou, Maine.
The Weather Service received unofficial reports of nearly 5 inches of rain (12.7 cm) in the eastern tip of Maine.
Arthur hit landfall with top sustained winds of 100 mph (160 kph), earning a Category 2 status on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. It weakened to a Category 1 as it moved northeast into colder waters of the Atlantic Ocean with 90-mph (145-kph) top sustained winds.
The storm had lashed the popular Massachusetts summer resort island of Nantucket with powerful winds and heavy rain on Friday night. In Boston, the famed Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, already moved up a day due to the weather, was cut short on Thursday by heavy rain and lightning.
Arthur cut power to almost 20,000 homes and businesses, downed trees and cut off barrier islands from the mainland after making landfall on North Carolina's Outer Banks.
The tourist haven of Ocracoke Island was without mains power, but a generator was providing power on a rotating basis and officials said power could be restored by late Sunday.
A highway connecting Hatteras Island to the mainland had been blocked, but was expected to reopen by late on Sunday. (Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Stephen Powell)