US Gulf Coast braces for first named storm of the season

A road damaged in a previous storm in Alligator Point is not yet fixed. Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for the area.  Credit Erich Martin

A road damaged in a previous storm in Alligator Point is not yet fixed. Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for the area. Credit Erich Martin

Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, warned residents along coastal Alabama and MS as well as the Florida Panhandle to brace for heavy rain and high winds.

Alberto, the first named Atlantic storm of 2018 which spun up days before the formal start of the hurricane season, is forecast to pack maximum sustained winds near 50 miles per hour (85 kph) and dump as much as 12 inches (30 cm) of rain, slamming an area from MS to western Georgia, it said. States of emergency have been declared in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. There's always a low-end risk of severe storms or a quick spin-up tornado on the left (eastern) side of tropical systems, which will be the case for eastern Alabama. A gradual strengthening was expected as the storm moves north.

While the bulk of the rain is expected later in the evening, isolated showers and thunderstorms are possible after 11 a.m. Sunday for the Myrtle Beach area, a NWS forecast says.

"Locally heavy rainfall will be possible, but the pattern evolution is far from certain at this time", said the weather service's Albany office. Maximum amounts of 15 inches are possible along Alberto's track from eastern Louisiana, across much of Mississippi, Alabama, western Tennessee and the western Florida panhandle, forecasters said. He said Alberto's biggest threat will be its heavy rains, with forecasts of anywhere from four to 12 inches (10-30 centimeters) of rain in some areas. Like residents in Sarasota and Manatee counties, people in Gulfport, Mississippi, lined up to fill sandbags.

A tropical storm warning expired for Cuba's western Pinar del Rio province, where heavy rains could trigger flash floods and mudslides, the National Hurricane Centre said.




At 5am EDT Saturday morning, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Alberto was moving north-northeastward toward the Yucatan Channel and was centered about 95 miles (105 kilometers) southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.

The projected path keeps the center of the storm west of NCFL.

Tropical Storm Warnings remain in place along the Gulf coast. Subtropical storms can develop into tropical storms, which in turn can strengthen into hurricanes.That tropical moisture will make its way into North Carolina Monday and Tuesday.

Stay with Storm Team 3 as we track Alberto this holiday weekend and be sure to download the free WSAV weather app.

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