CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl headed toward the Atlantic on Wednesday, skimming the coast of the Carolinas and prompting flood watches in eastern North Carolina. Beryl was expected to regain tropical storm strength at sea late in the day.
Heavy rains from the storm caused some scattered street and lowland flooding near Wilmington, N.C., as the system approached. Loris., S.C., near the border of the two Carolinas, received more than 3 inches of rain and radar showed heavy rains along the Interstate 95 corridor in the two states.
The tropical depression gained some strength overnight and winds increased to near 35 mph (55 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Beryl could regain tropical storm strength off the coast late Wednesday, but tropical storm-force winds were expected to stay offshore so no coastal warnings had been posted.
Reid Hawkins, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said the storm had picked up speed and was expected to drop between 1 and 3 inches of rain in eastern North Carolina. Earlier forecasts had called for upward to 8 inches in areas. He said Wilmington had received about 2.5 inches of rain by late Wednesday morning.
At 5 a.m. Wednesday, the depression was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north-northeast of Charleston, S.C., and was moving east-northeast near 14 mph (22 kph). The center was approaching the Wilmington area late Wednesday morning and skies brightened in Charleston.
Forecasters said the depression was expected to skim along the coast of the Carolinas before moving back over the Atlantic.
Hawkins said rain, not wind, was the concern with the system and the rain would be welcome. He said Wilmington has received only about 75 percent of its normal rainfall this year.
Beryl came ashore near Jacksonville, Fla., on Memorial Day as a tropical storm dumping 10 inches of rain in some areas of north Florida.
It struck Cumberland Island National Seashore off the Georgia coast and the island, part of the National Park Service, will remain closed to visitors until the weekend to give rangers time to clean up after the storm.
Fred Boyles, the island's superintendent, said Wednesday that downed trees and other debris still need to be cleared before Cumberland re-opens Saturday. Rangers evacuated the federally protected wilderness area reachable only by boat last Sunday, well ahead of the tropical storm's landfall.
The island off Georgia's southeast corner gets about 43,500 visitors each year.
Beryl is the second named tropical system of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season that doesn't officially begin until Friday.