and Kelli Kennedy
Tropical Storm Beryl was wrecking some Memorial Day weekend plans on Sunday, forcing shoreline campers to pack up and head inland and leading to the cancellation of some events as the storm approached the southeastern United States.
Beryl was still well offshore, but officials in Georgia and Florida were bracing for drenching rains and driving winds.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday evening that Beryl was approaching hurricane strength and would make landfall late Sunday or early today.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged Florida residents in the affected areas to “stay alert and aware.”
“Tropical Storm Beryl is expected to bring heavy rain and winds, and it is vital to continue to monitor local news reports and listen to the advice of local emergency management officials,” Scott said Sunday evening.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect for the entire Georgia coastline, as well as parts of Florida and South Carolina.
Beryl is expected to bring 4 to 8 inches of rain to parts, with some areas getting as much as 12 inches. Forecasters predict the storm surge and tide will cause some coastal flooding in northeastern Florida, Georgia and southern South Carolina.
Campers at Cumberland Island, Ga., which is reachable only by boat, were told to leave by 4:45 p.m. The island has a number of undeveloped beaches and forests popular with campers. Many people, however, seemed determined to make the best of the soggy forecast.
At Greyfield Inn, a 19th-century mansion and the only private inn on Cumberland Island, the rooms were nearly full Sunday and everyone was planning to stay put through the wet weather, said Dawn Drake, who answered the phone at the inn’s office on the Florida coast.
In Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday’s jazz festival and Memorial Day ceremony were canceled. Workers were also out clearing tree limbs and debris that could be tossed about by the storm’s winds.
Winds had already knocked down tree limbs and power lines in parts of coastal Georgia, leaving hundreds without electricity.