Raleigh, N.C. — Scattered showers and some thunderstorms were moving into North Carolina Tuesday afternoon as Beryl moved north and east on a return path to the Atlantic. Beryl had dropped to tropical depression status with winds of just 30 mph as it tracked through Georgia.
The storm is expected to regain strength and even return to tropical storm status briefly as it quickens its tread toward Cape Lookout over the next 24 hours, said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel.
Rising humidity, scattered storms and cumulus clouds presaged the changing conditions in the Triangle.
"The rain will get down to business late tonight and then continue tomorrow, although we do think it will start to taper off from the south and west as we head into the afternoon," Fishel said.
The system will pass closest to North Carolina Wednesday morning, bringing drenching rain to an area from Wilmington south to Myrtle Beach, said WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson.
"There is going to a sharp gradient in the amount of rain that falls," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "Certainly, parts of our viewing area could end up with a quarter-inch of rain, especially north and west of the Triangle. Then, as you go south and east, we could be looking at 3 to 4 inches. There might be places along the coast that end up with 4 to 6 inches of rain."
Some localized flooding is expected in coastal counties, and a flash flood watch extends as far west as Johnston, Harnett and Cumberland counties.
At the beaches near Wilmington, towns began taking precautionary measures Tuesday ahead of the storm. Freeman Park at Carolina Beach has closed until Thursday due to concerns about high surf.
"(Beryl) could bring surf up to the dune line, but we are not expecting any overwash or erosion issues," said Warren Lee, emergency management director for New Hanover County.
Conditions were calm at Wrightsville Beach Tuesday afternoon and evening. Resident Jonathan Smylie called the weather "perfect."
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler issued a reminder Tuesday for farmers to prepare for hurricane season, which officially begins Friday. He recommended that farmers have an emergency plan to include generation of electricity and a supply of drinkable water should they lose power in storm.
He offered these additional tips:
- Store or secure items or equipment that might blow away.
- Identify places to relocate animals from low-lying areas.
- Check generators to be sure they are in good working order and secure a sufficient amount of fuel to operate them. Or contact local farm suppliers and rental companies in advance to reserve a generator in the event of a power outage.
- Turn off the propane supply at tanks.
- Secure propane tanks in the event of flooding to prevent them from floating away.
- Move equipment to the highest open ground possible away from trees or buildings that could cause damage.
- Mark animals with an identifier so they can be easily returned if lost. Examples are ear tags with name of farm and phone numbers, brands, paint markings on hooves or coat or clipped initials in the hair.
- Move feed to higher ground or to a more accessible place in case of flooding or transportation problems.
- Pesticide storage areas should be secure, and farmers in low-lying areas should do whatever they can to elevate or move pesticides to locations that are less likely to flood.
- Coordinate with neighbors beforehand and discuss what resources can be shared, such as a backhoe or livestock panels.
- Keep a list of important phone numbers in order to make calls following a storm, including the local emergency management office, county extension agent, insurance agent, county Farm Service Agency and private veterinarian.
- Be prepared to photograph and document damage once storm has passed.
By Thursday, clear skies and much warmer weather is in the forecast, and the chance for summer afternoon thunderstorms returns on Friday.
Following Tropical Storm Alberto, Beryl is the second named storm in May, appearing before the Atlantic hurricane season officially starts on June 1.
The last time two such strong storms formed before hurricane season was 1908, which saw hurricanes in March and May. Before that, two tropical storms formed in May 1887.