Earl: Thursday evening update

Hurricane Earl is holding on to its Category 3 status, but its top winds were down to 115 m.p.h. at last report, compared with an earlier peak of nearly 145 m.p.h.

It is still a nasty-looking storm that will punish the Outer Banks with hurricane-force winds and heavy rain, but it continues to appear as though it won't make landfall until it gets far into the North Atlantic, perhaps all the way to Nova Scotia.

The forecast path has been remarkably stable, although it is ever-so-subtly west of what it was yesterday. It takes Earl close enough to Delaware and New Jersey, about 150 miles offshore, to stir the sands along the beaches and agitate the waves into an uproar.

But the odds are way, way against catastrophe. Dean Iovino, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, says it's possible that the worst consequence in New Jersey may be nothing more than minor tidal flooding.

What's more, the storm should be long gone by nightfall, and the rest of the Labor Day weekend looks stupendous, dominated by one of those air masses that gives you an undeserved sense of well-being.