florida weather

July is usually a quiet month in the tropical Atlantic. Not this year. Two tropical storms have formed in the past four days, one briefly becoming a hurricane and the other expected to by late Monday. Neither system is an imminent or significant threat. Floridians, however, might want to keep a close eye on one.

Beryl barreling west

It took less than 15 hours for Tropical Depression Two to become the season’s first hurricane in the Atlantic basin. With an eye only five miles wide and a wind field of only about 60 miles in diameter, Beryl has defied every forecast (so far) to become a tiny, but potent Category 1 hurricane.

NASA JOHNSON / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday it will begin releasing water Friday from Lake Okeechobee because of concerns over rising water levels.

While it's not unusual to discharge water during periods of heavy rain, it is unusual to start this early in the summer. 

"Historic rain across the region since the middle of May has caused the lake to rise more than a foot," said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District commander, in a press release. "We have to be prepared for additional water that could result from a tropical system."

The heavy rain came sooner than normal for many Floridians Wednesday morning.

C-Span

If you judge Wes Maul by his online résumé, his tenure at the state Division of Emergency Management has seen the full spectrum of natural and human disasters: hurricanes, mass shootings, public health emergencies. Tropical storms and infrastructure failure. Floods, mass migration, protests.

The first named storm of the season, Subtropical Storm Alberto, came ashore Monday along the Florida Panhandle, bringing heavy rain to a wide swath of the Southeast and claiming the lives of two journalists on duty in North Carolina.

Anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer of WYFF News 4 were killed when a tree fell on their SUV, officials and WYFF said.

Subtropical Storm Alberto has made a turn to the north and will likely make landfall Monday evening near Destin, Florida. Conditions were already deteriorating quickly near Panama City and Apalachicola Monday morning, with wind gusts between 40 and 50 mph being noted just offshore.

Subtropical Storm Alberto may be pulling away from South Florida, but the heavy rain and potential flood risk isn't going anywhere.  In fact, conditions could get worse before the get better.

A Flood Watch continues for all of South Florida through 8 pm Sunday evening, and the National Weather Service could extend it into Monday.

Subtropical Storm Alberto is now forecast to strengthen and take a track a little closer to Florida's west coast. This has prompted the National Hurricane Center to issue a Tropical Storm Watch for much of the Greater Tampa Bay Area. A Storm Surge Watch has also been issued for sections of the Nature Coast north of Crystal River.

Updated at 7:01 p.m. ET

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in all 67 counties on Saturday in preparation for Subtropical Storm Alberto.

10:45 am update from the National Hurricane Center: Subtropical Storm Alberto is now official. The National Hurricane Center reports the storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and sustained winds of 39 mph.  It's moving north, northeast at six mph.

A tropical storm is likely to form in the Gulf of Mexico by Saturday, potentially strengthening and approaching the Florida Panhandle by Memorial Day.

Up to four major hurricanes could form in the Atlantic this hurricane season, according to the annual forecast from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Overall, the season will likely be normal or somewhat more intense than normal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, with a 25 percent chance that hurricane activity will be below normal.

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