By David Beasley

ATLANTA, May 27 (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Beryl closed in on the southeastern U.S. coast on Sunday as Memorial Day weekend beachgoers braced for heavy rains and dangerous surf stretching from northeast Florida to South Carolina.

The second named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to make landfall late Sunday or early Monday.

The powerful pack of thunderstorms has prompted tropical storm warnings along the U.S. coastline in northern Florida, Georgia and parts of South Carolina.

At 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), Beryl was packing sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (100 kph) and located about 110 miles (175 km) east of Jacksonville, Florida, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

It was moving west toward the U.S. coast at 10 mph (17 kph) with tropical storm force winds extending about 90 miles (150 km) from the center.

The storm's approach led some vacationers on the Georgia coast to pack up and leave early, said Alden Alias, the front desk manager at The King and Prince Hotel on St. Simons Island, a popular coastal resort town.

"The waves are pretty big," she said. "The winds are starting to pick up."

Computer forecast models show Beryl moving on an eventual path back out over the Atlantic after coming ashore, posing no threat to U.S. oil and gas installations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters say it is expected to weaken to a depression on Monday.

The storm is forecast to dump as much as 3 to 6 inches (7.5-15 cm) of rain in some areas and threaten rip currents and possible coastal flooding, the center said.

Beryl formed off the South Carolina coast late on Friday as a subtropical storm, a reference to the storm's structure. Subtropical storms usually have a broader wind field than tropical storms and shower and thunderstorm activity farther removed from the storm's center.

It was reclassified a tropical storm on Sunday.

Beryl followed the season's first storm, Tropical Storm Alberto, which was the earliest-forming Atlantic storm since 2003.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Check out photos of storm clouds around the world:
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  • Rain clouds sweep over the desert plains on the Birdsville Track June 9, 2005 near Marree, Australia. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

  • A storm cloud passes over as the US space shuttle Discovery sits on Pad 39A on November 3, 2010 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A girl gathers flowers of rapeseed (brassica napus) in a field some 300 km from Kiev prior to heavy rain on May 10, 2010. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Rain clouds sweep over the desert plains on the Birdsville Track June 9, 2005 near Marree, Australia. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

  • Clouds hang over the Hong Kong skyline on May 22, 2011. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • The cathedral of Strasbourg, eastern France is pictured on September 18, 2011 as the sun sets on a cloudy sky. (PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Simon Buret, the singer of French band Aaron, performs during the second day of the 36th edition of the Paleo festival on July 20, 2011 in Nyon. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A cumulonimbus cloud as seen from a commercial airliner on May 28, 2009. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Rainclouds cover the buildings in the central business district of Bangkok on June 16, 2008. (PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Huge rainclouds gather on the horizon beyond Belarabon Station May 17, 2007 in Cobar, Australia. (Photo by Getty Images)

  • Rain clouds loom over the city skyline November 23, 2005 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by John Pryke/Getty Images)

  • Villagers walk against a backdrop of cyclone clouds on the outskirts of the eastern temple city Bhubaneswar on May 25, 2009. (ASIT KUMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Dark rainclouds loom before a heavy downpour, which delayed the start of the IPL Twenty20 cricket match between Pune Warriors India and Royal Challengers Bangalore at The Subroto Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune on May 11, 2012. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Indian walk along Juhu Beach in Mumbai on July 22, 2008 as monsoon rainclouds gather overhead. (SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Storm Clouds gather during day 3 of the Fifth Test between South Africa and England on January 23 2005 at Centurion Cricket Ground, Pretoria, South Africa (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

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