Former tropical storm Beryl barreled into Atlantic Beach, FL just after midnight Sunday night. With maximum sustained winds at 70 mph, it was the strongest tropical storm on record to make landfall in the U.S. before the official June 1 start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Also noteworthy- when Beryl formed on May 25, it became the earliest second named storm of an Atlantic tropical season since records began in 1950.
Although maximum sustained winds at landfall were estimated at 70 mph, the highest surface winds measured by aircraft -via the reliable SFMR instrument (Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer)- were closer to 65 mph. These high-end tropical storm force conditions were basically restricted to the open marine environment rather than observed over land.
Sustained winds over land maxed out in the 40-50 mph range, with a few gusts over 60 mph (see image to the right).
Local radar sweeps near the time of landfall (top image on left) indicate that bands of heavy rain nearly surrounded Beryl’s center. Not surprisingly, flooding rains were more of an issue with this system than the wind, with rainfall totals of 5-8 inches commonly observed across the region by yesterday afternoon (top image on right). Midway, Fl. measured 12.65”.
Notwithstanding some street flooding, the rains from Beryl have largely been beneficial in drought-stricken areas of the Southeast.
Beryl was a late bloomer, gaining full tropical status just hours prior to landfall. It wasn’t until late Sunday afternoon that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) had accumulated enough data to re-classify Beryl as a tropical storm.
After having been bullied around by an upper trough for days, Beryl finally matured enough in the few hours prior landfall to at least somewhat ignore the cold wind shear that had been trying to tear it apart since its inception. The low-level swirl apparently found a safe haven underneath a local warm spot (created by the strongest thunderstorms) just in time to give this part of the Southeast coast a rain-soaked and windier-than-expected holiday weekend.
Now just a rainy tropical depression over southern Georgia, NHC expects Beryl to accelerate northeastward over the next couple of days and move back out over the Atlantic tomorrow. Heavy rain showers are likely over the eastern Carolinas tonight and Wednesday.
There is a possibility that Beryl will briefly regain tropical storm status once it moves over the Gulf Stream, east of the Carolinas. But even if it does, it will soon thereafter merge with another windy upper trough and lose tropical characteristics for the final time.
Its rain should not impact the D.C. area, but it may (small chance) throw back a few showers along the eastern shore of the Delmarva Peninsula , which can expect some high surf through Thursday.
Beyond that, with strong mid-latitude flow in control, the post-tropical system formerly named Beryl could become quite a storm in the North Atlantic over the weekend.