AUGUSTA — The National Weather Service is projecting that Hurricane Earl will be downgraded to a tropical storm about the time it makes landfall in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Earl is expected to reach the Gulf of Maine around midnight, and make landfall in Nova Scotia in the morning.

The hurricane is currently rated a Category 1 storm as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard, with top sustained winds near 85 mph.

But by the time it reaches eastern Maine, where two counties are under a tropical storm warning, winds are expected to top out at 40 to 55 mph, akin to nor’easters that hit the region. The rest of the Maine coast is under a tropical storm watch.

Meterologist Mark Bloomer in Caribou says the bigger concern is the surf that’s expected to hit 12 to 15 feet by midday Saturday, after the storm passes by. Bloomer says people near the coast will need to keep a safe distance from the surf to avoid the pounding waves.

11:27 a.m.

AUGUSTA — A Maine Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman says she’s “cautiously optimistic” as Earl weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, with top sustained winds near 85 mph.

The hurricane’s path has veered slightly eastward, meaning bigger problems for Canada but potentially less severe weather in Maine.

MEMA spokeswoman Lynnette Miller said today people should still make preparations in the event the course changes again. As of now, Washington and Hancock counties are under a tropical storm warning. The rest of the Maine coast is under a tropical storm watch.

Earl is expected to reach the Gulf of Maine around midnight, and move quickly toward Nova Scotia, making landfall in the morning.