The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that the storm made landfall in Florida early Monday near Jacksonville Beach around 12:10 a.m. with near-hurricane-strength winds of 70 mph (113 kph), according to The Huff Post.
The powerful pack of thunderstorms has unleashed tropical storm conditions along the coast in northern Florida and Georgia and disrupted Memorial Day weekend plans for travelers and some beachgoers.
At 11 p.m. EDT, Beryl had sustained winds near 70 miles per hour and was located about 75 miles south south-east of Brunswick, Georgia, Reuters said citing the hurricane center.
According to CNN, a tropical storm warning was in effect from the Volusia-Brevard county line in Florida to Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
“Tropical storm conditions are already affecting the coast of northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia. These conditions will continue to spread inland tonight and Monday,” the hurricane center said.
“We’re seeing about the best that Beryl has right now as far as its winds are concerned, with winds about 70 mph,” forecaster Al Sandrik said. “The model shows significant weakening of the storm in 12 hours.”
Tropical storm Beryl was expected to bring 4 to 8 inches of rain to parts, with some areas getting as much as 12 inches. According to forecasters, the storm surge and high tide could bring 2 to 4 feet of flooding in northeastern Florida and Georgia, and 1 to 2 feet in southern South Carolina.
Florida Governor 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 in a statement early Sunday evening.
City officials in Jacksonville canceled Monday Memorial Day ceremonies and closed some local parks as the storm drew closer.
“I am encouraging all area residents to stay indoors and off the streets as the storm hits,” said Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.
At the same time business was booming at the Red Dog Surf Shop in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., where customers flocked to buy boards and wax in anticipation of the storm’s high waves.
Officials along the coast warned of rip currents, waves and high tides – all of which can be dangerous but also tend to attract adventurous surfers.
“There are actually more people than on a normal day. It’s working out great,” said Fernando Sola noting that business was booming at his Happy Faces Ice Cream truck.
Computer forecast models show the storm moving on an eventual path back out over the Atlantic after coming ashore, posing no threat to U.S. oil and gas installations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Beryl is expected to bring much needed rain to the area, most of which is experiencing an “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
However, while some rain may be welcome, officials are warning of dangerous rip currents and strong winds.
“Residents and visitors along the northeast coast should closely monitor this system and use caution on roadways,” said Amy Godsey, Florida Division of Emergency Management state meteorologist, according to Central Florida News 13.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, though it is not unusual for storms to form earlier.