Tropical Storm Beryl makes landfall on Florida coast
Tropical Storm Beryl has made landfall in northeastern Florida, bringing drenching rains and driving winds to the southeastern U.S. coast, forecasters said.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that the center of Beryl made landfall near Jacksonville Beach at around 12:10 a.m., with near-hurricane-strength winds of 70 mph (113 kph). The hurricane center reported late Sunday that the weather system was in the process of making landfall.
“There are strong rain bands that are rotating around the center of the storm…” forecaster Al Sandrik said in an audio statement on the NHC website.
The weather system is expected to continue dumping rain over parts of Florida and Georgia on Monday. It is expected to weaken as it moves inland and become a tropical depression by Monday night, and then moves out to sea.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect for the entire Georgia coastline, as well as parts of Florida and South Carolina.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged Florida residents in the affected areas to “stay alert and aware.”
“Tropical Storm Beryl is expected to bring heavy rain and winds, and it is vital to continue to monitor local news reports and listen to the advice of local emergency management officials,” Scott said in a statement early Sunday evening.
Beryl was expected to bring 4 to 8 inches of rain to parts, with some areas getting as much as 12 inches. Forecasters predict the storm surge and tide will cause significant coastal flooding in northeastern Florida, Georgia and southern South Carolina.
The weather system could complicate holiday traffic on Monday. It wrecked some Memorial Day weekend plans on Sunday, causing shoreline campers to pack up and head inland and leading to the cancellation of some events.
Campers at Cumberland Island, Ga., which is reachable only by boat, were told to leave by 4:45 p.m. Sunday. The island has a number of undeveloped beaches and forests popular with campers.
However, many people seemed determined to make the best of the soggy forecast.
At Greyfield Inn, a 19th-century mansion and the only private inn on Cumberland Island, the rooms were nearly full Sunday and everyone was planning to stay put through the wet weather, said Dawn Drake, who answered the phone at the inn’s office on the Florida coast.
In Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday’s jazz festival and Memorial Day ceremony were canceled. Workers were also out clearing tree limbs and debris that could be tossed about by the storm’s winds. Winds had already knocked down tree limbs and power lines in parts of coastal Georgia, leaving hundreds without electricity.
But business was booming at the Red Dog Surf Shop in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., where customers flocked to buy boards and wax in anticipation of the storm’s high waves. Officials along the coast warned of rip currents, waves and high tides — all of which can be dangerous but also tend to attract adventurous surfers. The waters had already become dangerous in South Carolina, where rescuers were searching for a missing swimmer.
The Coast Guard said three people and a dog were rescued from a sinking recreational vehicle by crews in Charleston Harbor late Sunday morning.
“There were wave heights of roughly four feet, the waves started depositing water in the boat and the boat started to get overwhelmed, it started to sink,” Petty Officer Christopher Evanson, a Coast Guard spokesman, told the Associated Press. “The Coast Guard was able to get on scene, get alongside the boat and disembark the passengers.
Evanson said the Guard is “trying to convince boaters and swimmers alike to stay away from the water. It’s very dangerous right now and we’re trying to stay vigilant and we’re out there trying to ensure that everybody is safe.
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