Tropical Storm Beryl made history when it blew through Jacksonville overnight, leaving 350 trees and scores of power lines down and dozens of streets flooded.
It was the strongest tropical storm to ever make landfall before the June 1 official start of the hurricane season and the only tropical storm or hurricane to come ashore in Duval County coming out of the east.
"This was trying to become a hurricane," Channel 4 chief meteorologist John Gaughan said, noting the storm's winds increased from 50 mph to 70 mph in the 12 hours before coming ashore just after midnight.
Ten hours after Beryl sloshed ashore, its winds dropped to 35 mph as it neared Lake City and was downgraded to a depression. All coastal tropical warnings were dropped at 11 a.m., but flood watches continued in force for across most of northeast Florida and southeast Georgia.
"Just because it's weakening doesn't mean we're done with it yet," said Channel 4 meteorlogist Richard Nunn, who has tracked thunderstorms and two brief tornado warnings Monday morning. "There's still more rain coming and the potential for severe weather."
The National Hurricane Center reported that the center of Beryl made landfall near Jacksonville Beach at around 12:10 a.m., with near-hurricane-strength winds of 70 mph.
By 11 a.m. Monday, the NHC update showed the center of Beryl was in Columbia County -- about 60 miles west-northwest of Jacksonville -- and the storm was downgraded to a tropical depression. Forward movement was down to 6 mph to the west-northwest.
The storm is forecast to turn north on a path into south Georgia Tuesday, then turn to the northeast and head into South Carolina by Wednesday.
Beryl was expected to bring 4 inches of rain to parts of the area, with some areas getting even more. (See National Weather Service rainfall accumulation map, right)
Because the outer bands reached 90 miles from the storm's center, the first rainfall and winds gusts reached area beaches mid-afternoon Sunday. Heavy rains began about 8 p.m. along the coast and reached inland areas before midnight.
The highest wind gusts in the area Sunday night were 64 mph at NAS Jacksonville and 62 mph at Mayport Naval Station.
Brown was joined by state and national elected leaders Monday afternoon. After a tour of Jacksonville EOC and a first-hand look at some flooding and tree damage in Riverside and Avondale, they praised the city's response to an early-season storm.
"If had been a couple months later, it could have been a Category 3 hurricane," Gov. Rick Scott said.
"I hope this is not a sign of things to come," Senator Bill Nelson said. "That you would have one come straight into Jacksonville is either a troubling sign or an unusual sign."
The Mathews and Wonderwood bridges were closed die to high winds before the storm made landfall. While Wonderwood reopened after a fallen light pole was fixed, the Mathews Bridge remains closed.
At 3:30 p.m. Monday, the JEA reported more than 22,000 customers were still without power. Less then 100 customers of Clay Electric and Florida Power and Light customers in northeast Florida reported outages.
Surf across the area remained rough. Most area beaches were closed to swimmers on Sunday and remain closed Monday.
“In addition to the potential for dangerous rip currents, high waves up to 4 to 6 feet could cause moderate beach erosion and minor coastal flooding,” state meteorologist Amy Godsey said.
The wind-whipped St. Johns River has spilled over the sea wall in Riverside and Riverside Avenue between Copeland and Barrs was closed due to flooding. Several other streets were blocked, mostly by downed powerlines.