As of 8 p.m., Beryl had maximum sustained winds of 70 m.p.h., just below hurricane-strength, which is 75 m.p.h. It was not expected to strengthen much more, and should weaken after making landfall. The hurricane center said the Jacksonville pier was already reporting winds of 50 m.p.h. Beryl was moving westward at 10 m.p.h.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged residents in the affected areas to "stay alert and aware."
"Tropical Storm Beryl is expected to bring heavy rain and winds, and it is vital to continue to monitor local news reports and listen to the advice of local emergency management officials," Scott said in a statement Sunday evening.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect for the entire Georgia coastline, as well as parts of Florida and South Carolina.
Beryl is expected to bring 4 to 8 inches of rain to parts, with some areas getting as much as 12 inches. Forecasters predict the storm surge and tide will cause some coastal flooding in northeastern Florida, Georgia, and southern South Carolina.
Campers at Cumberland Island, Ga., which is reachable only by boat, were told to leave by 4:45 p.m. The island has a number of undeveloped beaches and forests popular with campers.
However, many people seemed determined to make the best of the soggy forecast.
At Greyfield Inn, a 19th-century mansion and the only private inn on Cumberland Island, the rooms were nearly full Sunday and everyone was planning to stay put through the wet weather, said Dawn Drake, who answered the phone at the inn's office on the Florida coast.
In Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday's jazz festival and Memorial Day ceremony were canceled. Workers were also out clearing tree limbs and debris that could be tossed about by the storm's winds. Winds had already knocked down tree limbs and power lines in parts of coastal Georgia, leaving hundreds without electricity.
But business was booming at the Red Dog Surf Shop in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., where customers flocked to buy boards and wax in anticipation of the storm's high waves. Officials along the coast warned of rip currents, waves, and high tides - all of which can be dangerous but also tend to attract adventurous surfers.
Once Beryl comes ashore, it was expected to continue dumping rain over parts of Florida and Georgia on Monday before heading north and then out to sea. It was expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Monday night.
On Tybee Island, a barrier island not far from Savannah, water off the beaches was closed for swimming Sunday. Tybee Island fire Chief C.L. Sasser said winds of up to 42 m.p.h. were creating "horrendous water currents."
Only people with flotation devices strapped or tethered to their bodies were being allowed into the water, and they were being cautioned not to venture in farther than knee deep.