Rainmaker Beryl poses flood threat in South

Rainmaker Beryl poses flood threat in South
Photo by Mark Oswald/CNN.
Hurricane Central
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 1:30pm

After dumping more than a foot of rain in at least one location, Tropical Depression Beryl continued to soak the South on Tuesday, prompting flood watches and warnings from Florida to North Carolina.

Through Tuesday morning, the town of Midway, Florida, about 12 miles west of Tallahassee, had received a total of 12.65 inches of rain from Beryl, according to the National Weather Service.

Other notable storm rainfall totals include more than 8 inches in Cooks Hammock, Florida, about 73 miles northwest of Gainesville; and 6 inches in Branford and Arlington, Florida. The 3.25 inches measured in Gainesville broke a daily record, the weather service said.

As of about 11 a.m Tuesday, the center of Beryl was about 55 miles north-northeast of Valdosta, Georgia, and about 115 miles west-southwest of Savannah. Its maximum sustained winds were at about 30 mph with higher gusts.

Beryl was moving northeast at about 5 mph, and was expected to head toward the coast of South Carolina before pushing back out to sea.

"Some strengthening is likely as Beryl approaches the coastline and accelerates on Wednesday, when Beryl could regain tropical storm status," the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday.

Beryl was expected to produce 5 to 10 inches of rain over northern Florida and southeastern Georgia, with maximum amounts of 15 inches possible in some places, forecasters said. In eastern South Carolina and North Carolina, Beryl is forecast to drop 3 to 6 inches of rain.

"There are still going to be some wind gusts in the 30- to 40-mph range," at least for about 12 to 18 more hours, CNN meteorologist Sarah Dillingham said. Areas including the Outer Banks of North Carolina could see heavy rain, she said.

Dangerous rip currents remained possible from northeastern Florida to North Carolina, the hurricane center said.

Flash flood and flood watches were posted on the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts Tuesday. Flood warnings, watches and advisories remained in effect for parts of Florida and Georgia.

However, the rain is much-needed in the region. According to the University of Nebraska Lincoln, which tracks drought nationwide, areas of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are under drought conditions ranging from "severe" to "exceptional."

"We welcome the rain," said Lisa Janak Newman, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

No counties had requested assistance or reported damage from Beryl, she said, "It hasn't caused too many problems so far."

In Jacksonville, Florida, the Matthews Bridge, which connects the city with the suburb of Arlington, remained closed Tuesday, according to CNN affiliate WJXT.

And Susan Newton, who delivers newspapers in Jacksonville's Riverside area, told WJXT that she was surprised that some dismissed Beryl, recounting her efforts battling high water.

"I've been through four hurricanes out here in the 23 years I've done this," she said. "(I've) never seen anything like this, ever, and it was only a tropical storm. I was so surprised they were like, 'Oh, it's not a big deal.' It was a big deal."

-- CNN's Ashley Hayes and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

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