Subtropical Storm Alberto Forms With Holiday Weekend's Arrival
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.
Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to fly to the western Caribbean today, where a tropical storm is likely to form by Saturday. At last report, there were no significant changes to the forecast information for each city or area listed in this story below.
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- Periods of heavy rain likely across entire state starting Saturday
- Other hazards (wind, flooding) possible along/near Gulf coast
- Dangerous rip current risk at ALL Florida beaches this weekend
Heavy rain is almost a certainty across most of Florida at some point this weekend, and newest forecast data suggests other hazards such as coastal flooding, rip currents, high surf and water spouts could threaten Gulf coast beaches from Pensacola to Naples. In addition to staying aware of the potential for heavy rain, residents and vacationers in the panhandle should also prepare for possible tropical storm conditions arriving late Sunday.
Increasing Potential For A Strong Storm
The area of interest, referred to by the weather community as Invest 90, was located on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula Thursday afternoon, drifting slowly northward. Satellite data and surface observations indicated that the system was becoming better organized, and in a statement the National Hurricane Center said odds of cyclone formation are now at 90 percent. If the storm acquires a name, it would be called Alberto, the first of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
The two most reliable forecast models were in general agreement Thursday that Invest 90 would move north into the central Gulf of Mexico by Sunday, then slow down and turn northwest toward central portions of U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday. They were also surprisingly in agreement on the system strengthening into a formidable tropical storm before landfall. It should be noted, however, that before a tropical cyclone develops a closed center of circulation – and this won’t likely happen until at least Saturday – forecast data is often not scientifically credible.
An Air Force Reconnaissance plane is scheduled to investigate the disturbance Friday, and special (pre-season) updates will be issued by the National Hurricane Center at least every 12 hours until the system develops.
Primary Hazard Is Still Heavy Rain, Possible Flooding
Regardless of development, we have been advising that heavy rain and potential flooding are the primary hazards with this system. That is still the case statewide. But in addition to those risks, residents and vacationers along the Gulf coast should also prepare for the potential of other tropical-related hazards, such as coastal flooding, rip currents, water spouts, and even damaging wind.
WJCT News contributed to this report.
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