Slow, wet Beryl dumps rain on US Southeast coast

Residents along the Southeast coast were warned of possible flooding Tuesday from former Tropical Storm Beryl that left up to 10 inches of rain in northern Florida

This NOAA satellite image taken Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 07:45 AM EDT shows clouds over Florida and Georgia associated with Tropical Depression Beryl as it will slowly move northeastward and into the Atlantic Ocean the next few days. Areas of heavy rain and thunderstorms can continue to be expected. (AP Photo/Weather Underground)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Residents along the Southeast coast were warned of possible flooding Tuesday from former Tropical Storm Beryl that left up to 10 inches of rain in northern Florida and was moving northeastward before heading back toward the coast and into the Atlantic.

Beryl sloshed ashore near Jacksonville, Fla., on Memorial Day and was a tropical depression Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph (45 kph). It was centered about 115 miles (185 kilometers) west-southwest of Savannah and was moving northeast near 5 mph (7 kph).

The National Hurricane Center said that, on that track, the storm was expected to skim along the South Carolina coast early Wednesday before moving back over the Atlantic and strengthening again into a tropical storm with sustained winds of more than 39 mph.

Beryl is the second named tropical system of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season that doesn't officially begin until Friday.

Skies were hazy and the sun occasionally peaked through at midday Tuesday in Charleston, although storm bands pulled in by the system were approaching from the Atlantic.

Flood watches were in effect in northern Florida and the upper South Carolina coast while flash flood watches were posted from the Savannah area north to the mid-South Carolina coast.

Zarron Allen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, said Beryl dumped 10 inches of rain in Sewanee County, Florida, while nearby areas wound up with 3 to 6 inches.

Forecasters said up to 4 inches could fall on parts of South Carolina, although dry air that was beginning to wrap into the circulation over Georgia could lower that amount.

Rain would be welcome along the South Carolina coast after what has been a warm winter and dry spring. Rainfall in the Charleston area is about 4 inches below normal for the year.

Meteorologist Brett Cimbora of the National Weather Service in Charleston said rain would be sporadic at first as bands of showers spin up off the ocean, then become steadier. "The storm is moving pretty slow and it's bringing in rain off the water," he said.

Cimbora said the threat of flash flooding along the coast is greater because it has been dry and the biggest possibility is late Tuesday. Dry soil is more compacted and sudden heavy rains wash off quickly instead of seeping into the ground, he said.

Reports from the National Weather Service indicated that damage from the system seemed confined downed trees and limbs. Rip currents were reported at the Isle of Palms northeast of Charleston.

The forecast from the National Hurricane Center calls for Beryl to regain tropical storm strength off the North Carolina coast by late Wednesday. But even so, tropical storm force winds were expected to stay offshore so no coastal warnings had been posted.

Cimbora said heavy winds were not expected in the Charleston area as the storm again approached the coast from land. But he said that some of the stronger storms within rain bands could have heavy winds.
Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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