(Adds details on outages, damages in Nova Scotia; updates power restoration efforts in North Carolina)
By David Bailey
July 5 (Reuters) - Arthur weakened from hurricane force on Saturday and pelted parts of southeast Canada with heavy rain and strong winds, as the storm swept away from New England.
Arthur weakened to a tropical storm on Saturday morning after having reached landfall on North Carolina's Outer Banks late on Thursday as a Category 2 hurricane, 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. Near midday on Saturday, Arthur, now a post-tropical storm, was centered about 95 miles (155 km) west-northwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Arthur left tens of thousands of customers in Nova Scotia without power, and strong winds and heavy rain were expected to continue over parts of southeastern Canada through Saturday night.
About 100,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were without electricity Saturday afternoon, and crews had restored power to about 30,000 customers, spokeswoman Kathryn O'Neill said. The company hopes to have power restored to everyone by late Sunday.
The center of Arthur was moving over western Nova Scotia and was expected to move over the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday night. Maximum sustained winds had dipped to about 60 mph (95 kph).
"Basically, it lost its tropical characteristics and has become more a wintertime-type low," said Daniel Brown, a senior hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
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.
"We are still seeing quite a bit of rain across southeastern Maine," Jordan said. "It's going to continue to wind down as we go through the afternoon hours."
The Weather Service received unofficial reports of more than 6 inches of rain (15 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 lashed the popular Massachusetts 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.
In North Carolina, Arthur cut power to almost 20,000 homes and businesses, downed trees and cut off barrier islands from the mainland after making landfall on the state's Outer Banks.
The tourist haven of Ocracoke Island was without main power on Saturday, 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 has reopened. Permanent residents are being allowed back on Hatteras Island, but no visitors yet were being allowed on Hatteras or on Ocracoke Island. (Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Additional reporting by Eric Martyn in Bedford, Nova Scotia, and Gene Cherry in North Carolina; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Stephen Powell and Leslie Adler)