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Storm Beryl weakens as it drenches southeastern U.S.

Tropical storm Beryl, which soaked parts of the southeastern United States, is downgraded to a depression after knocking out power to tens of thousands.

Sustained winds in Florida, Georgia die down to about 55 km/h

A satellite image taken Monday at 1:45 a.m. ET shows the path of former tropical storm Beryl. (Weather Underground/Associated Press )

The remains of tropical storm Beryl soaked beach vacations and some Memorial Day remembrance services in southern Georgia and northern Florida on Monday and knocked out power to tens of thousands, though emergency officials said it hasn't brought any major damage. 

Beryl came ashore in Florida shortly after midnight near Jacksonville Beach with near-hurricane-strength winds of 113 km/h, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Sustained winds had died down to about 55 km/h, leading forecasters to downgrade the storm to a tropical depression and cancel all warnings and watches less than 11 hours after it made land. 

Bands of rain sprayed Georgia's 160-kilometre coast, where veterans groups braved the weather as they marched ahead with traditional graveside observances for Memorial Day. At Savannah's historic Bonaventure Cemetery, where a plot reserved for veterans had small American flags at each tombstone, the downpour paused just as a crowd of about 100 starting arriving. 

Robert Schulz, an 80-year-old former Marine who served in the Korean War, held a folded umbrella in one hand as he saluted with the other during the service. Schulz said he and his wife briefly considered skipping the ceremony for the first time in 10 years. 

"I said it would be terrible if nobody showed up," Barbara Schulz said. "We had to come for our veterans." 

Except for ruining holiday plans, the rain was welcome on the Georgia coast, which has been parched by persistent drought. In McIntosh County south of Savannah, emergency management chief Ray Parker said a few roadways had been flooded for a brief time but the ground was quickly soaking up the 25 to 50 millimetres of rainfall that had fallen so far. 

"We've needed it for a long time," said Parker, who said the worst damage in his county had been caused by trees falling on two homes overnight.

A frontal system coming south from the Great Lakes is expected to push the weakened Beryl into the Atlantic Ocean later in the week. Georgia Power reported about 2,900 people were without power Monday morning. 

Officials in Jacksonville, Fla., said 20,000 were without power and bus service was cancelled because of so many flooded roads, downed power lines and trees. 

Streets in Jacksonville Beach were unusually vacant. Bands of blinding rain alternated with dry conditions. 

The weather system also would likely complicate things for returning holiday travellers, some of whom had to scrap their beach and camping trips early because of the weather. Cumberland Island National Seashore off the Georgia coast will be closed at least through Tuesday and park Superintendent Fred Boyles said campers were asked to leave the area Sunday. He said the park does not seem to have serious damage. 

Beryl was expected to bring 10 to 20 centimetres of rain to parts, with some areas getting as much as 30 centimetres. Forecasters said the storm surge and high tide could bring 60 to 120 centimetres of flooding in northeastern Florida and Georgia, and 30 to 60 centimetres in southern South Carolina.

Officials reported no serious injuries, but the Coast Guard said crews in Charleston Harbor in South Carolina rescued three people and a dog from a sinking recreational vessel late Sunday morning.

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