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Mississippi, Florida declare emergency ahead of subtropical storm Alberto

May 26, 2018 - 12:43 pm
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(ORLANDO) -- Mississippi's governor joined Florida in declaring a state of emergency ahead of a subtropical storm's hitting the Gulf Coast.

Subtropical storm Alberto is forecast to move northward into the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend, with its center passing west of Cuba, the Florida Keys and mainland Florida -- and setting its sights on eastern Louisiana, the Florida Panhandle and the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Saturday morning that his declared state of emergency covers all 67 counties to "prepare for the torrential rain and severe flooding this storm will bring."

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant also announced a state of emergency and an order "making the National Guard and other resources available should they become necessary."

Alberto was moving north-northeast at 7 mph on Saturday morning with winds currently at 40 mph. The storm is about 95 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. The satellite shows that Alberto is somewhat disorganized, with all of the thunderstorm activity east of the center of circulation.

Since Alberto is a lopsided storm, the most notable impacts will be east of the center of circulation. Therefore, direct impacts -- primarily heavy rain -- will affect much of Florida and the Gulf Coast later this weekend.

Alberto will likely come ashore, potentially as a tropical storm, somewhere along the Gulf Coast late Monday into early Tuesday. However, the primary impact of heavy rain will affect Florida through much of this weekend and impact the Gulf Coast as early as Sunday.

It is important to not focus on the exact cone, since impacts will be felt far away from the center of the storm. Regardless of whether Alberto becomes a true tropical storm by definition, very heavy rain and flooding are likely from Florida to Louisiana over the next several days.

The main and most widespread threat from Alberto is the potential for heavy rain. A flash flood watch has been posted for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and large areas of Florida. Widespread rainfall of 3 to 6 inches is expected through the next several days due to tropical rain showers from Alberto. Rainfall could reach or exceed 2 inches per hour in some of these cells. Some locations -- especially southwest Florida, the Florida Keys and the Gulf Coast -- will receive even heavier rain, with isolated totals of 6 to 10 inches possible.

Western Cuba could see rainfall totals of over 2 feet with Alberto, which could cause life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides.

A tropical storm watch has been posted for parts of the Gulf Coast, including New Orleans; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama. A storm surge watch has been posted for parts of the coastal region from eastern Louisiana to the panhandle of Florida. Storm surge could reach 2 to 4 feet when Alberto approaches the region on Monday.

There will be an increase in showers and thunderstorms in southern Florida, especially the Florida Keys, on Saturday. Some of these tropical showers will have very heavy rainfall. A couple of these tropical showers and thunderstorms could also spawn brief tornadoes. Key West, Florida, has already had its wettest May on record, with 13.08 inches of rain. Several more inches of rain is likely this weekend from Alberto.

By Sunday morning, the center of Alberto will be over the Gulf of Mexico, but widespread tropical showers and thunderstorms will be over much of Florida. Once again, very heavy rainfall is likely with these tropical downpours, and brief tornadoes will be possible.

Alberto is expected to come ashore late Sunday and early Monday along the Gulf Coast, with heavy rain being the primary threat.

Storm threat in the Plains

There were 79 reports of severe weather in the country on Friday, with the majority of the reports coming from the central United States. That includes three reported tornadoes, including one landspout in southern Minnesota and one supercell tornado in central Texas. Hail up to the size of baseballs and softballs were also reported in central Texas.

On Saturday, the severe threat should be kept to a fairy localized and rural part of the country, with parts of eastern Montana and western North Dakota at risk for damaging winds, large hail and lightning.

The threat slides south and east on Sunday and stretches from western Kansas to southern North Dakota. In the slight-risk region, there is a threat for damaging winds, large hail and brief tornadoes.

The severe weather looks to stick around in this same part of the country -- the central and northern high Plains -- on Memorial Day. Once again, the risk will primarily be damaging winds and large hail.

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