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Tropical Storm Beryl nears hurricane force; Florida, Georgia wait

May 27, 2012|By Matt Pearce

Tropical Storm Beryl neared hurricane strength as it prepared to lash the coasts of northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia Sunday night and early Monday.

Winds were expected to reach 70 mph as the storm made its way toward landfall. It was forecast to weaken and start churning northward by Monday night, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm has already interrupted many Memorial Day plans along the coast in the Southeast.

The Jacksonville Beach Pier in Florida reported 50 mph winds as the storm approached, according to the weather service.

“These conditions are expected to spread inland during the next few hours and continue through tonight,” the weather service said. “Gusts to hurricane force are likely over portions of northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia tonight and early Monday.”

Forecasters also called for 4 to 8 inches of rain from northern Florida through southeastern North Carolina, with up to 12 inches in some places.

The weather service also continued to warn of dangerous surf and rip currents along the coast through the remainder of the Memorial Day weekend, but that  hasn’t prevented vacationers and hobbyists from attempting to surf. 

On Sunday, Taylor Anderson, captain of Jacksonville Beach's American Red Cross Volunteer Lifesaving Corps., told the Associated Press that lifeguards had made 150 "preventions," meaning they ordered 150 people out of the water who had gone in despite the warnings.

One of them was Christian Siciliano, 14, of Jacksonville Beach, who went boogie-boarding in the strong waves “to, like, mess around," he told the Associated Press.

"It was really rough,” he said, describing powerful waves that were tough to paddle against.

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matt.pearce@latimes.com

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