by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) May 27, 2012
Subtropical storm Beryl headed for the southeastern US coast Sunday, threatening to put a damper on Memorial Day plans for hordes of American beachgoers.
Beryl formed late Friday in the Atlantic off the coast of South Carolina as rains generated by Bud -- once a hurricane -- 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.
Early Sunday, Beryl was about 215 miles (345 kilometers) southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, gaining some strength with top winds of 50 miles (85 kilometers) per hour. It was moving in a southwestern direction at seven miles (11) kilometers) per hour.
"On the forecast track, the center of Beryl is expected to approach the southeastern coast of the United States on Sunday and then make landfall Sunday night or Monday," the storm center said, adding the storm was not expected to change much in strength during the next day or two as its center remained 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 practically dissipated 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.
Bud becomes depression, new storm forms in Atlantic
However, a new storm named Beryl has formed in the Atlantic, threatening to disrupt the plans of thousands of US beachgoers taking advantage of the long Memorial Day weekend.
Mexican authorities breathed a sigh of relief as Bud displayed weaker wind gusts and lower swells than expected.
The depression was now just five miles (10 kilometers) south of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).
It was creeping northward at six miles (nine kilometers) per hour, packing maximum sustained winds of 35 miles (55 kilometers) per hour.
"Some weakening is forecast," the NHC said. "And Bud is expected to degenerate into a remnant low on Saturday."
The weakening notwithstanding, emergency officials had alerted residents and prepared shelters as Bud -- which briefly intensified to a category three storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale -- made its approach.
"We are on alert, we are preparing some 120 shelters in the coastal towns," said Colima civil protection chief Melchor Urusua.
The Mexican government discontinued a hurricane warning along the central Pacific coastline from Manzanillo to Cabo Corrientes.
The depression was expected to move near land early Saturday before taking a gradual turn toward the southwest away from the coast on Sunday, according to the NHC.
Bud is expected to drop up to 25 centimeters (10 inches) of rain in the Mexican coastal states of Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco and southern Nayarit, with up to 38 centimeters (15 inches) in isolated areas.
This rainfall could produce "life-threatening" flash floods and mudslides, the NHC warned.
Mexican authorities have formed a task force in Jalisco, which includes 31 all-terrain vehicles and two helicopters to deal with emergency situations as well as deliver water and emergency food supplies to towns and villages that might be cut off by flooding
But as Mexico appeared to have dodged the bullet, a new subtropical storm named Beryl formed in the Atlantic off the coast of South Carolina.
Beryl, which was currently located 260 miles (415 kilometers) east of Charleston, South Carolina and 180 miles (285 kilometers) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina was moving west-southwest at five miles (seven kilometers) an hour, the Miami-based center said.
On the projected course, it was expected to hit the coast in one of the southeastern states on Sunday, packing winds of about 45 miles (75 kilometers) an hour.
"A little strengthening is possible during the next day or so," the NHC said.
Beryl formed just as Americans began celebrating the Memorial Day weekend, which marks the unofficial start of the beach season.
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