Published: Sun, May 27, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Storm Alberto: Florida and MS declare states of emergency

Storm Alberto: Florida and MS declare states of emergency

Tropical storm warnings and storm-surge watches are now focused on the Gulf coast from MS to Florida, as Alberto's path becomes clearer.

Subtropical Storm Alberto continued to track toward the Gulf Coast on Saturday but was still a disorganized storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Alberto will likely strengthen Sunday through Monday afternoon as it moves parallel to the Florida Gulf Coast, and area that is low in wind shear and therefore favorable for development.

The storm on Saturday afternoon was last located about 105 km north-northwest of the western tip of Cuba and 315 km southwest of the Dry Tortugas, which is nearly 113 km west of Key West, Florida, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC). In the Tampa Bay area, up to 8 inches of rain is possible.

Conditions are favorable for Alberto to develop into a tropical storm since shearing winds are expected to ease by Sunday, which would concentrate thunderstorms closer to Alberto's low-pressure circulation and warm its core. These are the locations most likely to feel tropical storm force winds over 40mph.

Hurricane season doesn't formally start until June 1.

Rainfall totals will be highest in Florida and eastern Louisiana.

These tornadoes, if they occur, are expected to pass west of South Florida, the service forecasts.

Since forming Friday morning, Subtropical Storm Alberto has been drifting around off the Yucatan peninsula with no change in intensity. The storm now remains a weak tropical storm bringing heavy rain over western Cuba.

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. Since May 14, most of Marion County has racked up 9.29 inches of rain, about 7 inches above normal, and most of Alachua County has tallied about 5.38 inches, or about 3.5 inches above normal for May.

A Flood Watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.

"All it says is that activity in the Atlantic starts early as far as hurricanes or tropical cyclones are concerned", Descartes told St Lucia Times.

The National Hurricane Center defines subtropical storm as a "subtropical cyclone" in which the maximum sustained wind speed - using the US one-minute average - is 39 miles per hour or higher.

Last hurricane season - which produced the immensely destructive hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria - was exceptionally active, said Bell, who doesn't now expect this season to produce such intense activity.

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