Near record heat here; flooding rains along the Gulf Coast

Florida  Mississippi  Alabama Brace For Subtropical Storm Alberto With States Of Emergency	 	 	 			NOAA

Alberto's movement was expected to accelerate Saturday night.

In 2016, Hurricane Alex became a tropical storm in the waters south of the Azores. Therefore direct impacts, primarily heavy rain, will affect much of Florida and the Gulf Coast later this weekend.

After Alberto makes landfall, it will continue on a northward track heading right through the southeast.

For our area, Alberto has the potential to be a fairly significant rain event with the possibility of 4 to 6 inches of rain, while the northern Gulf Coast, from the Apalachicola area to New Orleans, is under a Tropical Storm Watch.

A storm surge watch has also been extended and now stretches from the Crystal River in Florida to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Conditions are favorable for Alberto to develop into a tropical storm since shearing winds are expected to ease by Sunday, which would concentrate thunderstorms closer to Alberto's low-pressure circulation and warm its core.

The new location closer to Florida also implies that the center of the storm may come close enough to the west coast of the state, including the Tampa Bay area, to cause unsafe winds and some storm surge. By Saturday morning, the storm was gathering strength as it moved north. The NWS said a flash flood watch would be in effect from Saturday evening through Tuesday evening for southeastern MS, much of southern Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle. West Palm Beach, which experienced its 15th straight day of rain on Saturday, got 1.14 inches of rain on Friday, breaking the record of 1.08 inches for Friday that was set on May 25, 1972. Rainfall amounts up to 8 inches are possible in the southern Appalachians.

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Meanwhile, officials along the Gulf Coast launched emergency preparations Saturday as Alberto pounded Cuba's western coast, raising the threat of flash floods and mudslides.

For Central Florida, the biggest threat will be heavy rainfall.

In its 2 p.m. EDT update, the National Hurricane Center said Alberto was expected to move over the eastern Gulf of Mexico between Saturday night and Monday and approach the northern Gulf coast late Monday afternoon or evening.

The Storm Surge Watch has been extended eastward to Crystal River, Florida.

A tropical storm watch is in effect from Louisiana to the Panhandle of Florida.

Under overcast skies and occasional drizzle, several Gulfport, Mississippi, residents lined up to fill 10- and 20-pound (5- and 9-kilogram) bags with sand they will use to block any encroaching floodwater expected as a result of Alberto.

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