Tropical Storm Beryl heads to southeast US coast
MIAMI, United States (AFP) - Tropical Storm Beryl picked up speed and churned toward the southeastern US coast at near-hurricane strength Sunday, May 27 (Monday, May 28 in Manila) casting a shadow over the first big beach weekend of the US summer season.
At 0001 GMT Monday, Beryl's center was located about 75 miles (115 kilometers) east of Jacksonville, Florida, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported.
Beryl, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour and moving towards the west at 10 miles per hour, was expected to make landfall in northern Florida late Sunday.
The storm was set to strike during the long Memorial Day holiday weekend in which millions of Americans typically head for the beaches to celebrate the beginning of the summer season.
Hurricane Center data "indicate that Beryl is just below hurricane strength," the NHC said.
"Any additional increase in strength would make Beryl a Category One hurricane" on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale. Beryl was upgraded to a tropical storm earlier in the day.
Forecasters said it will turn overland into Florida and Georgia on Monday and Tuesday before turning back toward the coast and out to the Atlantic.
"Steady weakening is forecast after landfall, and Beryl is expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Monday night," the NHC said.
Tropical storm warnings went up from northern Florida to South Carolina.
The NHC warned that a storm surge combined with a rising tide "will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters."
The storm was forecast to dump three to six inches (eight to 15 centimeters) of rain along the coast from northern Florida to southeastern North Carolina.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has meanwhile predicted a "near-normal" Atlantic hurricane season is likely this year.
The Atlantic hurricane region includes the northern Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. - Agence France-Presse