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Tornado from remnants of Beryl destroy homes in NC

Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – The remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl spun off a tornado that destroyed three homes and damaged dozens of others near the North Carolina coast Wednesday as the system sped toward the Atlantic, authorities said.

Between 40 and 50 homes were damaged near Peletier in the western part of Carteret County, said county Emergency Services Director Jo Ann Smith. She said there were no reports of injuries.

Many homes suffered only minor damage, but three were destroyed when the winds came through shortly before noon, she said.

The National Weather Service in Morehead City confirmed Wednesday that a strong EF1 tornado with maximum winds of 110 mph caused the damage.

The remnants of the storm were skimming the North Carolina coast and prompting flood watches in eastern North Carolina. Beryl was expected to gain strength even as it loses its tropical characteristics.

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 showers along the Interstate 95 corridor in the two states.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said late Wednesday that Beryl was downgraded to a post-tropical storm and its center was located 40 miles (65 kilometers) west-southwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and was moving northeast at 21 mph (33 kph).

The hurricane center warned some additional strengthening was expected over the next couple of days. No coastal tropical cyclone watches or warnings were in effect Wednesday night, forecasters said.

Reid Hawkins, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, 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., just after midnight on Memorial Day as a tropical storm with 70 mph (113 kph) winds. It dumped 10 inches of rain in some areas of north Florida.

It struck Cumberland Island National Seashore off the Georgia coast. The island, part of the National Park Service, will remain closed to visitors until the weekend to give rangers time to clean up.

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, which doesn’t officially begin until Friday.

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