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Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Subtropical Storm Alberto Makes Landfall as Florida Braces for Rain

Subtropical Storm Alberto Makes Landfall as Florida Braces for Rain

Authorities spent the day warning swimmers to keep out of the surf because of life-threatening swells and rip currents.

Forecasters are also warning people in those same areas and in southern SC of the possibility that "brief tornadoes" could develop as Alberto moves further inland.

Forecasters warned heavy rain, flash flooding and unsafe surf posed the biggest threats as Alberto's ragged core made landfall near Laguna Beach in the Florida Panhandle.

Alberto's top winds rose to 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour early Sunday, up from 40 earlier, the National Hurricane Center said in a 11 a.m. A storm's winds need to reach 74 miles per hour to be called a hurricane.

The storm will bring powerful winds and heavy rains as it moves into the Tennessee Valley today and tomorrow, the hurricane center said.

Classified as a subtropical storm due to its hybrid appearance between a tropical storm and a low-pressure system, having both a warm core and a colder, upper-level low pressure, Alberto is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain from the Florida Panhandle inland to Alabama and western Georgia, with isolated storm totals up to 12 inches.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for a stretch of coastline between Aucilla River in Florida's Big Bend and the Alabama-Florida border. Subtropical storms can develop into tropical storms, which in turn can strengthen into hurricanes.

Between four and eight inches of rain could pummel Florida Panhandle, eastern and central Alabama, and western Georgia before the storm moves on.

On Thursday, another half-inch to a full inch of rain will be possible. The Florida Keys were likely to get several inches of rain. A falling tree killed two TV journalists who were covering the storm in North Carolina.

Alberto could cause $400 million to $500 million across the South, including damage to cars crushed by toppled trees, wrecked roofs and flooding, Watson said in an interview.

Elsewhere, Florida's Division of Emergency Management said, about 2,600 customers were without power in northwestern Florida on Monday morning. Storm surge flooding was less of a concern because Alberto's arrival would not coincide with high tide, he said.

Along the Florida Panhandle, tourists vowed Alberto wouldn't dampen their vacations.

Janet Rhumes and her group of friends from Kansas had been planning their Memorial Day weekend on Navarre Beach since October.

"Most of the issues we're having right now are downed trees and downed limbs", Walton County spokesman Louis Svehla told the Northwest Florida Daily News. "So how often can you say you rode a storm out?" "We've never seen one before and we're here celebrating a friend's 20th birthday", Rhumes said.

In Miami, organizers called off the sea portion of the Miami Beach Air & Sea Show on Sunday because of heavy rain and rough waters.

Though the Atlantic hurricane season doesn't officially start until Friday, Alberto has become the first named storm this year, throwing disarray into long holiday weekend plans up and down Florida's Gulf Coast.

With all the rain around, Monday's high temperature will only get to about 76 degrees.

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