Slow, wet Beryl dumps rain on US Southeast coast
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Flood watches were posted along the Southeast coast Tuesday as the remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl, which left upward to 10 inches of rain in northern Florida, moved northeastward and was expected to remerge off the coast into the Atlantic and regain strength.
Beryl, which sloshed ashore as a tropical storm near Jacksonville, Fla., on Memorial Day, 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 received generally 3 to 6 inches.
Forecasters said South Carolina could receive up to four inches, although dry air was beginning to wrap into the circulation over Georgia and those amounts could be lower.
Rain would be welcome along the South Carolina coast after what has been a warm winter and dry spring in the area. 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 the rain Tuesday 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 would be greatest late Tuesday. The risk of flash floods is greater in the area because it has been dry. 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 early Tuesday 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 Tuesday.
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.