Storm threatens big US beach weekend

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 27 2012 01:03 PM | Updated as of May 27 2012 09:03 PM

WASHINGTON - The southeastern US coast braced Saturday for the arrival of a subtropical storm that threatened Memorial Day holiday plans for hordes of beachgoers.

Subtropical storm Beryl formed overnight in the Atlantic off the coast of South Carolina as rains generated by Bud -- once a hurricane but now a rapidly weakening tropical depression -- pelted Mexico's Pacific coast.

As Mexican authorities breathed a sigh of relief, several southeastern US states braced for foul weather Sunday on the holiday weekend that traditionally marks the start of the US summer vacation season.

Memorial Day honors soldiers fallen in US wars, but many Americans skip the parades and stream to the Atlantic beaches for the three-day weekend in search of sun and sand.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for all of Georgia's coastline, in addition to parts of Florida and South Carolina, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

At 8:00 pm (0000 GMT), the NHC said Beryl was about 220 miles (354 kilometers) southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, gaining some strength with top winds of 50 miles per hour. It was moving in a southwestern direction at six miles per hour.

"On the forecast track, the center of Beryl will be near the coast within the warning area by late Sunday," the storm center said, adding the storm was not expected to change much in strength during the next day or two as its center remains over water.

Beryl was expected to dump three to six inches (eight to 15 centimeters) of rain along the coast from northern Florida to southeastern North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Bud petered out and was expected to continue to weaken or dissipate over the weekend. All coastal watches and warnings were discontinued.

Emergency officials had previously alerted residents and prepared shelters as Bud -- which briefly intensified to a category three hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale -- made its approach.

Bud was expected to dump a total of six to 10 inches of rain on the southwestern Mexican coastal states of Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco and southern Nayarit, the NHC said.

The Mexican Meteorological Service has forecast 23 tropical storms of various levels of intensity for the 2012 hurricane season. Ten of them are expected in the Atlantic Ocean and 13 in the Pacific.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has meanwhile predicted a "near-normal" Atlantic hurricane season is likely.

The Atlantic hurricane region includes the northern Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

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