Approaching record highs for Memorial Day

Tommy Whitlock left places a filled sand bag onto his trailer at a Harrison County Road Department sand bag location as Joseph Buckner adjusts the load while preparing for Subtropical Storm Alberto to make its way through the Gulf of Mexico (Credit AP

Approaching record highs for Memorial Day

Overnight, Subtropical Storm Alberto approaching the Florida panhandle slowed down to half its speed but didn't lose any of its strength, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for an area stretching from Florida's Suwannee River to the border of Alabama and Mississippi.

Mark Bowen, the Bay County Emergency management director, said Alberto's biggest threat would be its heavy rains, with forecasts of anywhere from four to 12 inches of rain in some areas.

It says Alberto is on a forecast track to enter the northern Gulf of Mexico during the nighttime hours and approach the northern Gulf Coast in the area of the Florida Panhandle sometime Monday. The storm comes during the Memorial Day weekend and was expected to scramble transportation on Monday as many people return from holiday travel.

Alberto is expected to move inland into the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday. It had winds of up to 60 miles per hour and was expected to increase to tropical storm conditions as it gets closer to shore.

The pre-season storm is not a direct indicator of an above-average season, but we have seen similar storms develop in recent years.

Flash flood watches have been posted for much of Florida, and along the Gulf Coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and southwest Georgia. The official National Hurricane Center forecast released Thursday said the season is likely to be near or above normal.

"The potential for flash flooding, mudslides and landslides will be very high in the [North Carolina] mountains", Panovich said. It is still a subtropical storm, meaning that it does not have all of the characteristics of a purely tropical system and is more of a hybrid cyclone.

The National Weather Service's Miami office extended its flood watch in South Florida to 6 p.m. Monday as a result of the storm. The storm had top sustained winds of 85 km/h.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency on Saturday for all 67 counties in his state.

Hazardous storm surge warnings were in effect for portions of the Eastern Gulf Coast, including areas Alberto was not expected to pass directly through, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season's first storm, Alberto, is set to make landfall east of Pensacola, Fla., in the early afternoon - just shy of hurricane intensity.

Trivia: Although subtropical storms have always been a part of the historical record, they were not officially given names until 2002.

Persistent rain is not expected to ease until midweek, forecasters said.

Latest News