Tropical Storm Beryl threatens U.SStrong waves batter Folly Beach Pier as Tropical Storm Beryl brushes past the South Carolina coast on Sunday.
Sun, May 27, 2012 - 8:55 PM
Tropical Storm Beryl was gaining strength as it closed in on the southeastern U.S. coast on Sunday, dumping rain and whipping up heavy surf from northeastern Florida to South Carolina.
The second named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season was expected to make landfall late Sunday with possible wind gusts to hurricane force, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
The powerful pack of thunderstorms prompted tropical storm warnings along the coast in northern Florida, Georgia and parts of South Carolina, disrupting Memorial Day weekend plans for some beachgoers and travelers.
Beryl is 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 some coastal flooding in northeastern Florida, Georgia and southern South Carolina.
As of 8 p.m. EDT, Beryl had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, and was centered about 75 miles (110 kilometers) east-southeast of Jacksonville, and about 95 miles (155 kilometers) southeast of Brunswick, Ga. It was moving westward at 10 mph (17 kph). Current forecasts have it making landfall late Sunday or early Monday, though tropical storm conditions with heavy rain and wind were already hitting the coast.
Campers at Cumberland Island, Fla., which is reachable only by boat, were told to leave by 4:45 p.m. 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; all guests were 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., Mayor Alvin Brown ordered a state of emergency, ending the Jazz Festival early and urging people to stay out of the water and off the streets. Workers are also out clearing tree limbs and debris that could be tossed about by the storm's winds.
"We are encouraging all residents to stay indoors," Brown said at a Sunday morning news conference at the Emergency Operations Center.
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 all 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.
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