US Gulf Coast braces for impact as Alberto approaches

US Gulf Coast braces for impact as Alberto approaches

US Gulf Coast braces for impact as Alberto approaches

Tropical Storm Warnings continue for almost the entire Gulf Coast of Florida, and a Storm Surge Watch continues for coastal regions from the Nature Coast to Pensacola.

Rain falls on Clearwater Beach by Pier 60 early Sunday morning May 27, 2018, as northbound Subtropical Storm Alberto looms in the gulf to the southwest. These remnants will bring tropical rains and possible flooding to some areas, so we will have to keep a close eye on that threat and where it lines up.

Radar image shows Subtropical Storm Alberto as it bears down on the Florida Panhandle as of 8 a.m. on Mon., May 28, 2018. A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for Crystal River to Navarre Florida.

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.

The center says the storm is dropping heavy rain and that isolated tornadoes are possible in parts of Florida in the coming hours as the system approaches.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for an area stretching from MS to North Carolina that is home to millions of people.

Florida, Alabama and MS declared states of emergency on Saturday with up to 15 inches (38 cm) of rain forecast over the Memorial Day weekend, as well as tidal surges and damaging winds, according to Patrick Burke of the weather service's Weather Prediction Centre in College Park, Maryland.

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

Florida Governor Rick Scott, who issued a state of emergency on Saturday in all of the state's 67 counties, said on Sunday that the Florida National Guard had 5,500 guard members ready to be deployed if needed.

Alberto is the first named storm of 2018, and it comes days before the Atlantic hurricane season officially starts on June 1. The tropical storm watch along the north-central Gulf Coast has been discontinued. The weather had scared off the usual crowds expected for the holiday weekend.

"Heavy rainfall and tropical storm conditions will likely reach the northern Gulf Coast well before the arrival of the center of Alberto", the National Hurricane Center said in its advisory.

"It was a 50-50 chance of whether to come down and we made a decision to chance it", Gasper said. The storm prompted Florida, Alabama and MS to launch emergency preparations over the weekend amid expectations Alberto would reach land sometime Monday.

By midday on Sunday, the storm was about 240 miles (386 km) northwest of Key West, Florida, according to the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC).

The NHC said Alberto had maximum sustained winds of near 65 miles per hour with higher gusts and that little change in strength is expected before the storm makes landfall on the northern Gulf Coast later Monday. In the end, it might not be wind and disruption to energy production that the storm is best known for.

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