US Gulf Coast braces for Alberto battering

Current Temperatures DMA

Current Temperatures DMA

Alberto is expected to make landfall Monday in the Florida Panhandle.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect from the Suwannee River to Navarre Florida, and a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from Suwannee River to the Mississippi/Alabama border.

Sustained winds from the season's first named storm had dropped to 45 miles per hour before coming ashore about 4:45 p.m. - down from 65 miles per hour Sunday night.

Alberto's high winds also led to concerns over the threat of storm surge and risky rip currents from the coasts of Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.

"The primary effects we will see from this storm in west central and southwest Florida will be heavy rainfall, isolated thunderstorms, gusty winds, and unsafe marine conditions", the weather service forecast said.

Tropical downpours will move northward into NCFL starting on Sunday.

Forecasters say 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain is expected on saturated ground with isolated areas getting up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain. The rest of the southeast USA from Tennessee to the Carolinas is forecast to receive 2 to 6 inches. Storm surge was a bigger threat north of the Tampa Bay area, with flooding possible in and north of Crystal River, the weather service 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.

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Weakening is forecast over the next 48 hours.

Some areas on Gulf Coast barrier islands remained under evacuation orders as authorities weighed the flood risks, officials said.

"Rainfall in the eastern half of the Tennessee Valley - everything east of Chattanooga - has already got double the normal rainfall in the past week and even after Alberto moves north we're still looking at chances or rain every day this week".

After Alberto reached 3.25 days as a named storm, Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach said that it is "the longest-lived Atlantic named storm forming in May since Alice in 1953". This means the potential for some heavy rains at times.

Shell plans to restore production at its Ram Powell Hub in the Viosca Knoll area of the Gulf as it soon as the platform can be operated safely, the company said in a statement.

Alberto is the first major storm of the 2018 hurricane season, which doesn't officially begin until June 1 and runs through the fall. Locally heavy rain can be expected throughout Memorial Day.

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