Thousands evacuate as Storm Alberto powers toward Florida

Olive Hawkins
May 30, 2018

Alberto's top winds fell slightly to 60 miles an hour (96 km per hour) with the storm about 50 miles (80 kph) south of Panama City, Florida, the National Weather Service said.

It is moving north at 6 miles per hour and has maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour, with higher gusts.

"Things are a little bit uncertain depending on the path Alberto takes", Carroll said.

Alberto also disrupted Memorial Day plans in Alabama, Florida and MS as it moved into the Southeast.

In Panama City, Assistant Fire Chief Gary Swearingen said the rain and wind knocked down trees but did not require any rescues.

Jason Powell said he was seeking to keep his children entertained until Alberto blows past his Panhandle vacation spot.

It's also worth pointing out that extremely heavy rain continues to fall over Cuba from a trailing moisture plume ... this is the fifth consecutive day.

Alberto formed several days ahead of the June 1 official start of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant authorized the use of the National Guard, his office said. Governors in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama on Saturday declared states of emergency.

The National Hurricane Center says Subtropical Storm Alberto has come ashore on the Florida Panhandle. The system is forecast to move over the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday and into the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Alberto could cause $400 million to $500 million across the South, including damage to cars crushed by toppled trees, wrecked roofs and flooding, Watson said in an interview.

Forecasters said Alberto could bring risky high water to southern coastal states when it douses an area from MS to western Georgia with up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain and possible tornadoes. The Florida Keys and Florida peninsula could receive up to 5 inches of rain in some areas. The Florida panhandle, a good portion of Alabama and western Georgia are dramatically more at risk for flash flooding with this storm.

Mark Bowen, Bay County Emergency management director, said at a Sunday afternoon news conference that the concern isn't with storm surge due to the timing of landfall and the tides. It's not clear what will become of the remnants of Alberto late in the week.

Even though Alberto is no longer a subtropical storm, it remains a threat as it moves inland and brings soaking rain in the Southeast, after killing at least two people.

"I strongly encourage everyone to be safe and stay informed", Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement.

Additionally, NOAA predicted there would be anywhere from five to nine hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes before the season's end in November.

The Tropical Storm Warning from the Aucilla River to the Okaloosa/Walton County line has been discontinued.

Last year, a number of deadly hurricanes hit the United States and Caribbean.

The season is likely to be "near or above normal", according to the NHC.

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