Alberto approaches Panhandle, as more rain expected in Central Florida

Pensacola Florida is seen

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said on Monday that Alberto was centred about 50kms south-southwest of Panama City, Florida.

Saturday, the NHC issued tropical storm warnings that stretched from Gulf Shores, Alabama, to Ft.

Subtropical Storm Alberto weakened slightly as it neared Florida's Panhandle, where it should come ashore Monday to spread heavy rains across the southern USA, potentially causing more than $1 billion in economic losses.

Subtropical Storm Alberto is whipping around over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and may land on the Florida panhandle by sunrise on Memorial Day morning, according to weather experts.

Sustained winds from the season's first named storm had dropped to 45 miles per hour before coming ashore about 4:45 p.m. - down from 65 miles per hour Sunday night.

At the most recent information available from NOAA, the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio and areas of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche should monitor Alberto for the next 24 hours. And in the Tampa Bay area on the central Gulf Coast, cities offered sandbags for homeowners anxious about floods. When the storm, in its infancy, took its first few spins in the northwestern Caribbean, it was initially buoyed by another nearby low pressure system.

The early storm doesn't necessarily mean this year's hurricane season will be as busy as last year's, though. But forecasters said it will dump heavy rain on the Florida Panhandle, raising the risk of flash flooding and storm surges.

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Subtropical storms are essentially hybrid systems with some features of fully tropical systems - but not all.

Though the storm has passed Central Florida without making landfall, rain is expected in the area on Memorial Day, according to the National Weather Service.

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. An additional 1-4 inches of rain will be possible, which could result in minor flooding.

Alberto is moving north at 9 miles per hour.

South Florida remains under a Flood Watch through Sunday night as Subtropical Storm Alberto continues to drop relentless rain across South Florida and the eastern Gulf Coast. Storms will likely produce areas of heavy rain and tropical downpours.

After Alberto reached 3.25 days as a named storm, Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach said that it is "the longest-lived Atlantic named storm forming in May since Alice in 1953". States of emergency have been declared in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama.

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