Tropical Storm Beryl about to move inland at near hurricane strength
Though the Coast Guard on Saturday warned that swimming and boating would be dangerous with Beryl whirling down the coastline, several rescue efforts were undertaken today in high winds and rough seas as many ignored the warning.
11 PM UPDATE
About 35 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla and 75 miles south-southeast of Brunswick, Ga.
It has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and is moving west at 7 mph.
In Charleston Harbor, the Coast Guard had to rescue three people and a dog from a 14-foot recreational vessel after it was swamped by high seas around noon. Later in the day, the Coast Guard and other authorities searched for a swimmer thought to have disappeared in the surf near the Folly Beach Pier.
Beryl, which finally turned into a tropical storm today, had residents in Georgia and Florida bracing for drenching rains and driving winds.
Use our Flash interactive map to track Beryl's progress.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said late Sunday afternoon that Beryl would make landfall in several hours, and that tropical storm conditions were already near the coasts of northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia. Gusts are possible late Sunday and early Monday.
In its 8 p.m. advisory, the Hurricane Center said Beryl was about 75 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla. and 95 miles southeast of Brunswick, Ga. With sustained winds of 70 mph, it was moving west at 10 mph.
The Weather Service has issued a minor coastal flooding statement for the coastal counties of South Carolina.
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.
On Tybee Island, a barrier island not far from Savannah, water off the beaches was closed for swimming Sunday. Tybee Island fire Chief C.L. Sasser said winds of up to 42 mph were creating “horrendous water currents.” Only people with flotation devices strapped or tethered to their bodies were being allowed into the water, and they were being cautioned not to venture in farther than knee deep.
“Even if you're standing in waist-deep water, the current can sweep you out quickly,” he said.
His ocean rescue team pulled a total of 48 people from the water on Saturday, he said, including about 27 that were considered to be in life-threatening conditions. One man who was sucked under the water was rescued by friends and onlookers and was taken to the hospital in serious condition.
A band of showers soaked the beaches late Sunday morning, causing crowds to thin, Sasser said. With alternating rainy and sunny weather forecast throughout the day, he said he expected the crowds on the sands to ebb and flow.
In South Carolina, Janice Keith with the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau said Sunday that the office hadn't fielded any calls from concerned tourists.
In Beaufort County, emergency management deputy director David Zeoli said officials were continuing to monitor the storm and encourage people to have a plan in case conditions get worse.
Zeoli said winds had kicked up in the area that includes Hilton Head Island, a popular golf and beach destination. “It's just a wet day here,” he said.