Beryl now a depression; soaks Ga., Fla. coasts

People were waiting for the American Legion Post 21 Memorial Day observance to begin when rain from outer bands of Tropical Depression Beryl passed through the Summerville area. Organizers moved the event to the VFW hall in Ladson.

Former Tropical Storm Beryl has become a depression with winds dying down.

Still, beach trips, backyard barbecues and graveside Memorial Day observances alike got a good soaking in southeastern Georgia, northern Florida and here in the Lowcountry.

A brief squall forced the delay and relocation of a Memorial Day ceremony from Parks Cemetery in Summerville to the VFW hall in Ladson.

Two afternoon boat trips to Fort Sumter were cancelled Monday due to rough weather in Charleston Harbor. A spokesman for Fort Sumter Tours said the 2:30 and 4 p.m. boat trips were called off after an earlier trip to the fort encountered weather-related problems. The Memorial Day cancellations left a lot of people unhappy who were hoping to make the trips, the spokesman said.

The National Weather Service in Charleston had issued a small craft advisory Monday; it was set to expire at 5 p.m.

Beryl was expected to bring 4 to 8 inches of rain to parts, with some areas getting as much as a foot. Forecasters said the storm surge and high tide could bring 2 to 4 feet of flooding in northeastern Florida and Georgia, and 1 to 2 feet in southern South Carolina.

Officials warn that it could make a mess of holiday traffic as it hovers over the busy Interstate Highway 95 corridor.

Sunday afternoon, winds gusted up to 44 mph on the Ravenel Bridge and often reached 35 mph on the beaches, according to Rich Thacker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Charleston office.

Beryl caused trouble in the waters around Charleston on Sunday. Lifeguards ordered swimmers out of the water at Folly Beach about 1:30 p.m. after a swimmer was reported missing in the choppy waves near the pier. A Coast Guard rescue helicopter joined Public Safety rescue crew members on personal watercrafts while thousands watched from shore. The helicopter left after about an hour, and the search was called off about 5 p.m. It started when someone said a man went out past the breakers and didn’t return, but no one was officially reported missing, according to Mayor Tim Goodwin.

In Charleston Harbor, two Coast Guard ships rescued a boat that was filling with water about noon Sunday. Rescue crews reported 4-foot waves at the time, and the Coast Guard blamed them on Beryl. Three boaters and a dog were rescued, and the boat was towed back to shore.

Sunday’s high winds over the ocean made for an uncomfortable day on local beaches, with winds whipping the sand around and stinging the skin.

“It just beat us to death,” said Sandy Reddy of Summerville as she left the Isle of Palms County Park late Sunday afternoon.

Lifeguards put up yellow caution flags and cut the swimming area in half because of the choppy waves. Even though it was mostly sunny, Sunday’s crowds were half that of a typical holiday weekend, according to Cole Thomas, manager of Isle of Palms County Park.

Editor’s note: Earlier versions of this story gave incorrect information about the Memorial Day ceremony in Summerville. The Post and Courier regrets the error.