Subtropical Storm Alberto marks early start to Hurricane season
Although Hurricane season doesn’t officially begin until June 1, the first tropical weather system — subtropical storm Alberto — has formed and is poised to move into the Gulf of Mexico over this holiday weekend. This storm is expected to bring the threat of flash flooding, rip currents, strong winds, coastal flooding and tornadoes to the Southeast.
The National Hurricane Center said Alberto is expected to track north into the Gulf of Mexico by Saturday, approaching the northern Gulf coast by late Sunday. According to the NHC, tropical storm conditions may reach the northern Gulf Coast as soon as Sunday morning.
A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for portions of the northern Gulf Coast of the United States from Indian Pass, Florida, westward to Grand Isle, Louisiana, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and metropolitan New Orleans. A Storm Surge Watch has been issued for portions of the northern Gulf Coast of the United States from Horseshoe Beach, Florida, westward to the Mouth of the Mississippi River.
A building dome of high pressure over the Upper Midwest responsible for a holiday weekend heat wave will then trap this Gulf system, allowing it move only very slowly near the Gulf Coast from late Sunday into Memorial Day.
The overall environment is expected to become more favorable for some strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico. Some wind shear may remain over the system, but water temperatures are sufficiently warm, in fact warmer than late May average, over the northern Gulf of Mexico.
This may allow Alberto’s core to warm enough to become a fully tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico later this weekend.
The long range forecast shows Alberto making a slow west-northwest turn that could bring remnants of the storm over the western half of Middle Tennessee next week as a tropical depression.
A wide swath of tropical moisture will move across the southern states this weekend in advance of the storm and flash flood watches are already posted for portions of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, extending to Atlanta, with rainfall totals expected between 3 and 5 inches through Tuesday.
Hurricane season season typically runs from June 1 to November 30.