New sub-tropical storm threatens big US beach weekend

Storm warnings went up along the US eastern seaboard Saturday as a new subtropical storm wheeling out of the Atlantic threatened Memorial Day holiday plans for hordes of beachgoers.

Subtropical storm Beryl formed overnight off the coast of South Carolina as the Pacific coast of Mexico felt the softening lash of another storm, Bud, once a hurricane but now a rapidly weakening tropical depression.

As Mexican authorities breathed a sign of relief, a swath of southeastern US states braced for foul weather Sunday on the holiday weekend that opens the summer beach season.

Memorial Day honors soldiers fallen in US wars, but many Americans skip the parades and stream to the Atlantic beaches for the three-day weekend in search of sun and sand.

At 8:00 am (1200 GMT), the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Beryl was 175 miles (280 kilometers) southeast of Cape Fear in North Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles (75 kilometers) per hour.

Tropical storm warnings went up from northern Florida to South Carolina, and storm watches extended further north along the Carolina coast, the center said.

"On the forecast track the center of Beryl will be near the coast within the warning area by late Sunday," it said.

Beryl could pick up speed and power over the next day or so, the storm center said.

Meanwhile, Bud was now just five miles (10 kilometers) south of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).

It was creeping northward at six miles (nine kilometers) per hour, with maximum sustained winds of 35 miles (55 kilometers) per hour.

"Some weakening is forecast," the NHC said. "And Bud is expected to degenerate into a remnant low on Saturday."

The weakening notwithstanding, emergency officials had alerted residents and prepared shelters as Bud -- which briefly intensified to a category three storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale -- made its approach.

"We are on alert, we are preparing some 120 shelters in the coastal towns," said Colima civil protection chief Melchor Urusua.

The Mexican government discontinued a hurricane warning along the central Pacific coastline from Manzanillo to Cabo Corrientes.

The depression was expected to take a gradual turn toward the southwest away from the coast on Sunday, according to the NHC.

Bud could bring with it one to two inches (2.5-5 centimeters) of rain to the Mexican coastal states of Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco and southern Nayarit, the NHC said.

Mexican authorities have formed a task force in Jalisco, which includes 31 all-terrain vehicles and two helicopters to deal with emergency situations as well as deliver water and emergency food supplies to towns and villages that might be cut off by flooding

The Mexican Meteorological Service has forecast 23 tropical storms of various levels of intensity for the 2012 hurricane season. Ten of them are expected in the Atlantic Ocean and 13 in the Pacific.

"The anticipated storms will be less intense than the average," said Jose Luis Luege, director general of the Mexican National Commission of Water.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a "near-normal" Atlantic hurricane season is likely.

The Atlantic hurricane region includes the northern Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

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