Storm warnings issued as Beryl heads our way

Tropical storm warning issued from Volusia County north to Edisto Beach, S.C.

Published On: May 26 2012 06:33:58 AM EDT   Updated On: May 26 2012 09:19:30 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown announced Saturday that Tropical Storm Beryl has forced the cancelation of the final day of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival on Sunday. Crews will begin taking down stage and equipment after Saturday night's performances are concluded.

Indoor activities, however, will continue as scheduled, but the outdoor festivities will not be rescheduled.

The plan for Monday's Memorial Day events will be announced Sunday morning.

Channel 4's chief meteorologist John Gaughan believes the storm will come ashore either north or south of Jacksonville late Sunday or early Monday, and exactly where will make a big difference.

"Folks living north of the track will see inland winds -- along and west of I-95 -- to 30 mph. Along the coast, a few gusts will reach 45 mph, enough to cause a few power disruptions," Gaughan said overnight. "Folks living south of the track will see winds under 20 mph."

But the area could get a significant amount of rain after landfall because the storm will move slowly inland, then is expected to turn around and start to move back to the northeast -- dropping occasionally heavy rain across the area for four days and possibly cause flooding.

“Although Beryl may bring much needed rain to the state, this rainfall will be quite heavy with possible gusty winds, and the risk of rip currents will also be elevated,” said Florida Department of Emergency Management meteorologist Amy Godsey.

Higher than normal tides and rip currents will build on Saturday and Sunday along area beaches and some areas will see coastal flooding.

Forecasters have classified Beryl as subtropical, which has more to do with how the center of the storm is forming, not wind speed. It is the second named Atlantic storm of the hurricane season that doesn't officially begin until June 1 and formed almost where Alberto did just over a week ago.

"This one won’t turn away like Alberto" Channel 4 hurricane expert George Winterling wrote on his Eye on the Storm blog. "The good news is that it should not grow into a hurricane, although it will take a track across the warm Gulf Stream waters."

Emergency managers in Jacksonville, St. Johns, Clay and Nassau counties are are closely monitoring the system and participating in statewide briefings.  St. Johns County was planning to close its beaches on Sunday due to rough surf and riptides, but no county had plans to open shelters at this time.

"Now's a good time to be trimming those tree limbs back. if you've got any loose debris, pick it up," said Jacksonville Fire-Rescue Chief Marty Senterfitt. "Make sure that you've got a family plan, that you have a hurricane kit ready, and start watching the tropics."

At noon Saturday, Coast Guard Captain of the Port Andy Blomme ordered waterfront facilites between New Smyrna Beach and Fernandina Beach to prepare for gale force winds.  Under condition X-RAY, people should remove potential flying debris, hazardous materials and oil pollution hazards from dockside areas and secure all hazardous materials and potential sources of pollution due to possible heavy rain run-off.

Capt. Blomme said vessels more than 500 gross tons should make preparations to leave the port unless they have permission from the Coast Guard to remain in port.

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown said Saturday afternoon at the Duval County Emergency Operations Center that they have "activated a level 2" warning at the EOC.

Right now, city activities are continuing as normal," Brown said. "City officials are keeping a close eye on the jazz festival, the beach and other holiday activities."

Brown said that JEA and the public works department are focusing on removing debris and limbs throughout the city have already fallen down. He said flooding is their main concern. More information can be found at www.jaxready.org.

"Bottom line, we're keeping a watchful eye. We want things to be normal. So if you're going to the Jazz Festival, please go to the Jazz Festival. Everything is really at normal but we want to make sure people are ready. I don't want anyone to be complacent, particularly those going out to the beach," the mayor said.