Florida beaches empty as storm Alberto nears

Ignacio Smith
May 28, 2018

Subtropical storms have cooler centers than tropical storms, but they can eventually develop into tropical storms and then into hurricanes.

A tropical storm warning is in effect from the Suwannee River to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

Of those, the NOAA is forecasting that five to nine of the storms will form into hurricanes with winds of 74 miles per hour or above.

Large cloud formations gather behind the downtown Gulfport, Miss., water tower Saturday afternoon, May 26, 2018, as Subtropical Storm Alberto slowly makes its way through the Gulf of Mexico.

The weather service posted a storm surge watch from Crystal River northward with 3 to 4 feet of surge possible Sunday - 5 to 6 feet at high tide.

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Mandatory evacuations are being ordered for small barrier islands in one Florida county ahead of Subtropical Storm Alberto, and voluntary evacuations are issued for another county.

Subtropical Storm Alberto had a burst of strength as it closes on Florida's Panhandle, where it should come ashore early Monday, and is spreading heavy rains across the U.S. South, potentially causing more than $1 billion in economic losses.

After that, it will bring powerful winds and heavy rains as it moves into the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday, it said.

A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible for the area and time frame described.

Gusty showers began lashing parts of Florida on Sunday, and authorities were warning of the possibility of flash flooding.

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Florida governor Rick Scott also declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties Saturday morning to 'prepare for the torrential rain and severe flooding this storm will bring'.

A tropical storm warning remained in effect for Cuba's western Pinar del Rio province, where heavy rains could trigger flash floods and mudslides, the NHC said. It had maxium sustained winds of 65 miles per hour early Monday and can create unsafe waves for people not in its path. It formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday and threatens to batter the Gulf of Mexico coast with heavy rains and storm surge.

On Sunday morning, the storm was located about 240 kilometres northwest of the Dry Tortugas, which is nearly 113 kilometres west of Key West, Florida, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins on June 1 and goes through to November 30, 2018. Because of expected deteriorating weather, the sandbag distribution points will not be open Sunday, the county said.

USA forecasters followed suit by issuing a tropical storm watch for parts of the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle southwest of Tallahassee to the New Orleans metropolitan area.

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"We had a band of rain this morning but due to dry air wrapping in", Pickering said, "the rain engine" was shut down. Flood warnings and other tornado warnings were issued there Sunday night. The Tampa Bay is not longer under a storm surge watch at the moment, but that could, of course, change. Meteorologists are calling it a "subtropical storm", not to be confused with the just plain tropical storms we know and dread.

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