Beryl now a tropical storm
Burgers, beer and Beryl are on tap this Memorial Day weekend as the subtropical storm intensifies on its march toward the coast, bringing rain and rip-current warnings that could make swimming a dicey affair.
2 PM UPDATE
Beryl has strengthened and is now a tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.
About 110 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla and 120 miles southeast of Brunswick, Ga.
It has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and was moving west at 10 mph.
Though still technically a subtropical storm, the cluster of thunderstorms that is expected to become Tropical Storm Beryl threatens to bring steady rain today, dampening holiday cookouts far and wide. There is a 50 percent chance of rain today and Monday.
The storm is expected to make landfall late tonight or early Monday near Jacksonville, Fla., then gradually crawl up the coast toward us.
The Lowcountry probably won't see its heaviest rainfall from Beryl until Tuesday or Wednesday, but keep those umbrellas close at hand, nonetheless, meteorologist Pete Mohlin of the National Weather Service said.
“I don't think it will be a complete washout, but if you have outdoor plans they could be impacted,” he said. “Monday could go either way.”
Hurricane-hunter flights found the storm continuing to strengthen Saturday night, with maximum sustained winds of about 50 mph. Locally, we probably won't see much stronger than 25 mph winds today, and it doesn't appear that the storm will bring significant flooding, Mohlin said.
Charleston County officials are monitoring the storm, but they have no plans to open an emergency command center or sound the alarm about severe-weather threats.
“We're really not doing anything different,” said Cathy Haynes, Charleston County emergency management operations chief. “We're just enjoying our holiday weekend and hope others are enjoying their weekend safely as well.”
With thousands of people packing the beaches this weekend, officials are warning people to be careful in the water. High surf and strong currents present challenges for boaters and swimmers alike.
A kite boarder and a man on a paddle board had to be hauled in by rescue crews on Sullivan's Island Saturday afternoon. Fire crews on Isle of Palms were hopping as well, rushing to the aid of people on an overturned catamaran and solving a few scares involving missing kids in the water.
“If you go to the beach, keep an eye on your kids and don't let them out of your sight for even a second,” said Isle of Palms Fire Chief Ann Graham. “And if you go in the water, don't go past your knees. It's pretty rough out there.”
The Coast Guard on Saturday warned that tropical-storm conditions may hinder its ability to rescue stranded boaters, and it urged boaters and swimmers to stay out of the water this holiday weekend.
“With Tropical Storm Beryl approaching, the Coast Guard is strongly urging boaters and swimmers to stay off and stay out of ocean waters along Georgia and South Carolina coastlines until the storm has passed and sea conditions return to normal,” the Coast Guard said in a news release.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect from northern Florida to Edisto Beach. The tropical storm watch the Charleston area had been under was lifted late Saturday. A small-craft advisory remains in effect through this afternoon.
At Folly Beach, where some 60,000 people packed the sands on a pleasantly sunny Saturday. Public Safety Director Dennis Brown said officials were reviewing plans, stocking up on supplies and keeping their fingers crossed that heavy rain will stay away.
Heavy rain could bring flooding and more erosion that the Edge of America doesn't need.
“That's our biggest concern, if flooding did occur,” Brown said Saturday. “We're already in full swing here just in case. But right now, the weather is beautiful.”