Tropical storm Beryl strikes southeast U.S. coast

Tropical storm Beryl has arrived at the southeastern U.S. coast, bringing heavy rain, winds and the possibility of flooding.

Storm arrives with near hurricane strength, but expected to weaken

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

Tropical Storm Beryl threatened to soak military remembrance ceremonies and beach vacations on Memorial Day as it brought drenching rain, winds and the possibility of flooding to the southeastern U.S. coast. 

The storm made landfall in Florida just after midnight Monday near Jacksonville Beach with near-hurricane-strength winds of 113 km/h, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Thousands had lost power in southern Georgia and northeastern Florida. 

The weather system was expected to continue dumping rain over parts of Florida and Georgia on Monday.  

Except for ruining holiday plans, the rain was welcome along Georgia's 160-kilometre coast that's 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.

Beryl was forecast to weaken as it moves inland Monday and Tuesday. And as a frontal system comes down from the Great Lakes, Beryl was expected to move out into the Atlantic Ocean. Georgia Power reported more than 3,000 people had lost power overnight. 

Jacksonville, Fla., city officials say 20,000 were without power there.

"We're seeing about the best that Beryl has right now as far as its winds are concerned, with winds about [112 km/h]" forecaster Al Sandrik said in an audio briefing late Sunday. "The model shows significant weakening of the storm in 12 hours." 

Still, the weather system could complicate holiday traffic after ruining some weekend plans. It caused shoreline campers to pack up and head inland and led to the cancellation of some events. 

A tropical storm warning was in effect early Monday for coastal areas from Flagler Beach, Fla. to the Savannah River in Georgia. At 8 a.m., the storm was 80 kilometres west of Jacksonville and was moving west near 13 km/h. The storm's maximum sustained winds had decreased to near 65 km/h.  

Flood warnings were issued for areas in Florida around Jacksonville. Thousands in Florida were without power, The Florida Times-Union reported early Monday. 

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.