Alberto strengthens, heads toward Florida panhandle

Subtropical storm Alberto's course shifted slightly to the west Sunday as it nears the Gulf Coast. Image courtesy NOAA

May 28 (UPI) — Subtropical storm Alberto strengthened Sunday and is expected to make landfall on the Florida panhandle on Monday.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm was 190 miles west of Tampa and 105 miles southwest of Apalachicola at 8 p.m. It was moving northwest at 10 mph and is expected to bring tropical storm conditions as it gets closer to shore.

“A north-northwestward to northward motion is expected Monday through Wednesday,” the NHC said in its 8:30 EST alert. “On the forecast track, the center of Alberto will move over the northern Gulf of Mexico tonight and cross the northern Gulf Coast in the warning area on Monday. Alberto is expected to move inland into the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday and into the Ohio Valley on Wednesday.”

Heavy rains are expected across Florida and in parts of Alabama and Georgia. The Florida Keys could see between 3 and 6 inches, while the rest of the Florida peninsula could see between 1 and 4 inches. In the Florida panhandle and adjacent parts of Alabama and Georgia, between 4 and 8 inches are expected.

Flash flooding is also expected in that tri-state area.

A storm surge watch was put into effect from Crystal River to the Navarre, Fla., indicating the possibility of life-threatening inundation of storm water. A tropical storm warning was put into effect from the Anclote River to the Mississippi/Alabama border.

Areas from Crystal River to Navarre could experience 2 to 4 feet of storm surge that will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters from the shoreline. The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast, the NHC said.

The NHC also announced cancellations of a tropical storm warning for the west coast of Florida south of the Anclote River and a storm surge watch along the northern Gulf Coast west of Navarre.

The NWS said rains in Cuba could produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency on Saturday for all 67 counties in his state.

“Remember, the track of these storms can change without notice,” Scott said. “Do not think that only areas in the cone will be impacted — everyone in our state must be prepared.”

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant authorized the use of the National Guard and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency for 40 counties to begin at 6 a.m. Sunday.

Hurricane season doesn’t formally start until June 1.


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