Alberto Maintains Strength As It Approaches Gulf Coast

Posted May 29, 2018

A subtropical storm like Alberto has a less defined and cooler center than a tropical storm, and its strongest winds are found farther from its center.

After reaching the coast, the storm will bring powerful winds and heavy rain as it moves into the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday, the U.S National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

"Heavy rains and gusty winds continue to spread northward over Florida", the National Hurricane Center tweeted.

Alberto, the first named Atlantic storm of 2018, is expected to reach land on the Gulf Coast on Monday afternoon or evening, the center said.

At 11 p.m. EDT Sunday, Alberto was centered about 205 miles (330 kilometers) west of Tampa and had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) as it approached the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Slowly strengthening Subtropical Storm Alberto could cause more than $1 billion in economic losses to the U.S. Gulf Coast as it tracks north, bringing a growing threat of floods, but it's had little impact on offshore energy production.

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Storms in the Gulf are closely watched because 5% of US natural gas and 17% of crude-oil production comes out of the region, according to the Energy Information Administration.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for Cuba.

All 67 Florida counties were issued the emergency notice to give state and local governments enough time and resources to prepare, Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a statement. A few brief tornadoes were possible in much of Florida and parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.

All three counties are in north Florida. Storm surges are expected to be as high as four feet in some areas but its already wreaking havoc.

Mark Bowen, the Bay County emergency management director, suggested people stay safe - preferably indoors.

"We are under this tropical-like influence and that is not going to really breakdown this pattern for at least the better part of this week, " said Al Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia.

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In addition to parts of the southeastern US, the heavy rains and storm conditions could produce "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides" in Cuba, the NHC said.

Mayor Tony Kennon said in a phone interview Monday afternoon that the grim forecast kept Orange Beach from having the record crowds that were anticipated.

The storm disrupted long holiday weekend plans from Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle to Miami Beach on Florida's southeastern edge.

Alberto is moving north at 9 miles per hour.

If you are heading to the Florida beaches or along the Gulf Coast starting in MS, you will still be under the Tropical Storm Watch and a Storm Surge Watch into Tuesday because Alberto is tracking closer to the Florida Panhandle. As it travels up the warm waters of the Gulf, it could well become a full tropical storm.

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