Beryl shows teeth Sunday, should slack off today

Jenny Grollman of Georgia fights the wind as she and her friends set up on the beach at Sullivan's Island on Sunday. “We come to the beach, rain or shine or wind,” she said.

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

Still, it is soaking parts of the Southeast and ruined holiday plans along the Georgia and Florida coasts. Late Monday morning, sustained winds had died down to 35 mph (55 kph). Mostly, the storm is bringing much-needed rain to an area parched with drought.

Locally, a brief squall forced the cancellation of Summerville's annual Memorial Day ceremony at Summerville Cemetery. First District U.S. Rep Tim Scott was to speak at the event.

Officials warn that it could make a mess of holiday traffic as it hovers over the busy Interstate Highway 95 corridor. Charleston's weather, meanwhile, is expected to be relatively tame, with highs in the mid-80s and a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms. Southeast winds are expected to be 10 to 15 mph.

The National Weather Service, Charleston has issued a small craft advisory, which is in effect until 5 p.m.

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.

Staff reporters Prentiss Findlay and Tony Bartelme contributed to this report.