Holiday crowds head for shelter, Florida Panhandle awaits Alberto reported that double red flags are flying at beaches in Panama City and other areas, which means there are life-threatening rip currents.

Alberto could cause US$400 million to US$500 million across the region, including damage to cars crushed by toppled trees, wrecked roofs and flooding, Watson said in an interview. Expect similar conditions in North Alabama on Tuesday as the center of the storm moves overhead; a Flash Flood Watch is in effect though noon Wednesday.

Alberto, which spun up days before the formal start of the 2018 hurricane season, was moving north at about 13 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds near 40 miles per hour, and higher gusts, on Saturday, the NWS said. People are cautioned not to swim or play in the Gulf because the storm will kick up risky rip currents.

"We need to really be careful with that rainfall", Graham added, noting that the storm was moving slowly at some 14 miles per hour northwards.

Authorities in Florida's Franklin and Taylor counties issued mandatory evacuation orders for thousands of coastal residents. Alberto, classified as a subtropical storm due to its hybrid appearance between a tropical storm - with a warm core - and a low-pressure system - with a colder, upper-level low pressure present - will move slowly toward the northern Gulf Coast on Memorial Day before eventually making landfall.

In case you were wondering subtropical storm will make landfall across the Western Panhandle of Florida or Southern Alabama Memorial Day with tropical storm force winds and 6 to 12"+ of rain". A Flood Watch continues for much of east-central through Monday evening, and a new wave of heavy rain is likely to develop thanks to the seemingly relentless flow of tropical moisture. But forecasters said flash flooding from heavy rain was the biggest risk in many areas. No tornadoes were reported Sunday, however, in the Florida Peninsula.

The storm is the first storm of this year's hurricane season, coming a few day before the season officially starts on June 1.

Alberto's projected storm track has shifted eastward since Friday, lessening its threat to the active oil production areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Moore said the rainy weather late this month is expected to push the Columbia area past its average precipitation for May, typically one of the state's driest months. Alberto's center is expected to make landfall around mid-afternoon Monday near Pensacola, Florida.

Florida, Alabama and MS declare states of emergency; Jonathan Serrie reports from Florida.

  • Valerie Cook