Thousands evacuate as Storm Alberto powers toward Florida

Pablo Tucker
May 28, 2018

Ahead of the storm, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama declared states of emergency in preparation for the worst.

It is forecasted that an area of 4 to 8 inches of rain is likely from the Florida Panhandle inland to Alabama and western Georgia, and isolated storm totals up to 12 inches are expected, posing the risk of flash flooding.

Forecasters said Alberto could bring life-threatening high water to southern coastal states when it slams an area from MS to western Georgia with up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain and possible tornadoes.

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.

A satellite image shows Alberto as it nears landfall on the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast on Monday
View Slideshow A satellite image shows Alberto as it nears landfall on the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast on Monday. NOAA STAR

After reaching the coast, the storm will bring powerful winds and heavy rains as it moves into the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday, the hurricane centre said.

Steady weakening is expected after landfall, and Alberto is forecast to become a tropical depression Monday night or Tuesday.

Locally, the highest winds were reported at New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport, with 35 mph wind gusts for several hours and sustained winds of 20-21 mph.

The Hurricane Center says a tropical storm warning is in effect from the Suwannee River in Florida to the Mississippi-Alabama state line. At the moment nearly all of the showers are on the east of Alberto's centre, with the heaviest rains falling across Cuba and Florida.

Janet Rhumes said her group of friends from Kansas had been planning their Memorial Day weekend on Navarre Beach since October, and no tropical storm could deter them.

Alberto is expected to hold its current strength. but very little additional strengthening is likely before coming ashore across the USA east central Gulf coast.

The system is expected to slowly intensify today and Memorial Day and will likely consolidate into a tropical storm at some point before making landfall.

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

"We had a band of rain this morning but due to dry air wrapping in", Pickering said, "the rain engine" was shut down.

Rick Scott issued an emergency warning early yesterday advising his fellow Floridians to prepare for torrential rain and severe flooding, reminding residents that the storm's track can change without notice.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its hurricane season forecast last week and it predicts 10 to 16 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes.

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