Thousands evacuate as Storm Alberto powers towards Florida

Ismael LynchMay 31, 2018

Alberto's top winds weakened on Monday to 45 miles per hour (75 kph) when its center made landfall near Panama City, Florida, weather officials said, with a city fire official adding that the wind and rain knocked down trees but did not force any rescues.

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season's first storm, Alberto, is set to make landfall east of Pensacola, Fla., in the early afternoon - just shy of hurricane intensity.

A Storm Surge Watch is also posted for areas between the Aucilla River and Mexico Beach.

Forecasters had feared the storm could bring unsafe high water to southern coastal states and possible tornadoes.

In the Baltimore suburb of Ellicott City, a massive storm caused flash flooding on Sunday that swept through its historic Main Street area, local news video showed.

Alberto drove northward through the area with the classic tropical storm pinwheel rotation that frequently produced sideways rainfall late Tuesday afternoon.

However, the NHC warned it will still deliver heavy, potentially damaging rains, with as much as 30cm in some areas in north Florida and Alabama through Tuesday night.

Subtropical depression Alberto continues to spin across central Alabama and is drifting north northwest with time.

"The basic idea is that it's going to run out of real estate for it to strengthen" by picking up energy from the warm Gulf of Mexico waters, said Dan Petersen, a forecaster with the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

With Alberto nearing the Florida Panhandle Monday, we will still be on the wet side of the system and our rain chances will remain elevated.

Alberto isn't taking a bead on the Carolinas, but the storm has stirred up enough moisture to make for rainy and soggy conditions, according to the National Weather Service.

Alberto got an early jump on the 2018 hurricane season, which doesn't officially start until Friday.

Janet Rhumes said her group of friends from Kansas had been planning their Memorial Day weekend on Navarre Beach since October, and no tropical storm could deter them.

Picking up windspeed of up to 45 miles per hour, the storm gradually subsiding to 12 miles per hour as it headed northeast inland, according to the National Hurricane Centre. It is showing signs of transitioning to something more tropical as deeper convection has developed near the center. "Some spots could see upwards of 4-5" of rain, which would lead to flash flooding issues.

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