Beaches in Florida were largely empty ahead of Memorial Day as a slowly intensifying storm carrying brisk winds and heavy rain approached the U.S. Gulf Coast on Sunday.
Mark Bowen, the 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.
Subtropical storms can strengthen into tropical storms, but Alberto is not expected to do so before reaching land, and will quickly weaken after landfall. The region could receive more than an inch of rain.
Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center in Miami discontinued all storm surge warnings for most of the state's peninsula. It warned of life-threatening surf conditions, the possibility of a few brief tornadoes in much of Florida and parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.
The weekend downpours were brought on by the season's first named storm, Subtropical Storm Alberto, which was gaining momentum and strength as it moved through the eastern Gulf Sunday morning. The risk for rip currents will also remain high at area beaches for several days, and water enthusiasts are encouraged to use caution or check with local authorities before entering the water.
In this Saturday, May 26, 2018, photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Hannibal and Emily Baldwin pose for a wedding photo under an umbrella outside the Casa Marina Resort in Key West, Fla.
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The National Weather Service says the ground is already saturated from a week of heavy rain and the 5 inches of rain possible through Tuesday could both cause creeks and rivers to flood and mudslides.
The NHC defines subtropical storm as a "subtropical cyclone" in which the maximum sustained wind speed - using the USA one-minute average - is 39 miles per hour or higher.
A tropical storm warning remains in effect for an area stretching from Florida's Suwannee River to the border of Alabama and Mississippi. Although, the season doesn't technically start until June 1.
Subtropical Storm Alberto was disrupting plans for Memorial Day barbecues and beach outings in Alabama, Florida and MS, as the storm continued churning north through the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. In the end, it might not be wind and disruption to energy production that the storm is best known for. "Flooding and flash flooding are possible in the southeast United States, including Florida", it said.
The early storm doesn't necessarily mean hurricane season will be as busy as last year's though.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for an area stretching from MS to North Carolina that is home to millions of people. Parts of Cuba could see 10 to 15 inches of rain, with isolated totals of 25 inches across western Cuba, the hurricane center said.