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First Tropical Threat Of 2018 Comes Early

The swirl of clouds seen above near the Yucatan Peninsula was named Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto Friday morning by the National Hurricane Center. Just in time for the unofficial start of summer and about week before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

At best, it will ruin the holiday for nearly everyone along the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Louisiana. It doesn’t appear that Alberto would grow to hurricane strength, however, it may linger beyond the holiday. Here is the early forecast track:


It is important to remember that this track can and will change. A new one is produced roughly every six hours based on computer model forecasts dependent on the input of real-time data.

The fact that Alberto will hang around for such a long time extends a heavy rainfall and flood threat across the Southeast into early next week. Here’s a projection for rainfall over the next five days from Friday, May 25 through Wednesday, May 30:


Alberto will slowly emerge from the Yucatan by early Saturday and then move into favorable conditions for growth in the Gulf of Mexico. There, temperatures are warm and upper-level winds are light. The latter condition helps the system not only grow, but move slowly.

If you live along the Gulf coast, stay alert and aware. Remember, new forecasts for the track of the storm will be issued every six hours once the storm is named, if that happens. Mainly get ready for several days in a row of consistent rain and if you live near somewhere that normally floods, expect that could happen.

Alberto gets the sub-tropical classification because of a scientifically technical distinction with its tropical storm cousin. Both are rotating areas of low pressure, turning in a counter-clockwise direction. While there is a closed circulation common to both systems, this one lacks dense overcast clouds. Additionally, it is not fully tropical in that the temperatures aloft are much colder than the surface. This so-called “cold core” structure is common in sub-tropical systems, which are often observed early in the season when summer patterns are not yet fully established.

If the name Alberto sounds familiar, it should be. Every six years, the National Hurricane Center uses the same list of name for storms. If any storm in a given year is so catastrophic that its name is retired and removed from the list, a new name is chosen. See a list of names here.

Tropical Storm Alberto from 1994 memorably brought record flooding to the Southeast and there have been two Hurricanes named Alberto; one in 1982 and again in 2000.  The former hit Cuba hard with Category 1 winds and deadly flooding.

Hurricane season doesn’t begin until June 1 and according to the National Weather Service, we could see another active year. Alberto has kicked things off early, a reminder for everyone living along a coastline to always be ready.

Remember, land-falling tropical systems can and do spawn localized severe weather, even brief tornadoes. While Alberto’s main threats might be heavy rain, be prepared. If you already have WeatherCall, go into your account and turn on Flash Flood Warnings. We won’t call you for that, but you will get a text and email. If you don’t have WeatherCall or know someone who lives in the Southeast and can use it, get it here.

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