• Tropical storm watch issued for parts of Gulf Coast ahead of Alberto

    By: Severe Weather Team 2

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - The first named storm of the year has formed and is currently brewing off the end of the Yucatan Peninsula near the Gulf of Mexico. It will likely affect your plans if you’re traveling for the Memorial Day holiday.

    Subtropical Storm Alberto formed Friday morning, just days ahead of the official hurricane season for 2018.

    The impact this system will have on your Memorial Day weekend, on Channel 2 Action News Saturday AM. 

    A tropical storm watch was issued Friday evening, ahead of the storm, for parts of the Gulf coastline throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

    “The impacts are pretty much the same as a tropical storm,” said Severe Weather Team 2 chief meteorologist Glenn Burns. “There are subtle differences. Like, the center of circulation in a tropical storm is very, very small – maybe 10 or 20 miles wide. In a subtropical storm, it could be more than 100 miles wide.”


    If you are without cable as the storm moves through, don’t forget you can watch Severe Weather Team 2 coverage on your TV for FREE. Just search WSB-TV on LIVE streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV.


    Burns also said these types of storms don’t need warm water to form.

    “It’s not feeding on the evaporation coming from the ocean,” Burns said. “But the impacts are basically going to be the same.”

    TIMING OF THE STORM

    Hurricane hunters flew into the storm Friday and found sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts of about 50 mph. The storm is moving slowly toward the east at about 2 mph.

    “As the storm gathers strength and moves into open water, the speed will increase,” Burns said.

    By about 1 a.m. Saturday, the storm will be completely in the Gulf of Mexico, gaining strength with winds of about 45 mph.

    By 2 p.m. on Saturday, the storm will continue to move north through the Gulf of Mexico, with sustained winds of about 50 mph.

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    “Expect torrential rains for Florida, up to a foot in some areas,” Burns said. “The rains will continue to approach, along with strong, gusty winds, along much of the Gulf Coast.”

    By about 2 p.m. Sunday, the storm will be near the mouth of the Mobile Bay area, picking up to speeds of about 65 mph.

    “We’re going to find rip currents and no doubt we’re going to see some storm warnings go up,” Burns said. “I’m really afraid, with all the people along the Gulf Coast, it is going to be mayhem down there once the storm begins to move inland, with everyone trying to evacuate at the same time.”

    By Monday, the storm will have moved inland and will likely become an area of low pressure, but will hit with winds of about 65 mph.

    “It could even strengthen to a small, minimal hurricane,” Burns said.

    Burns said there will be heavy amounts of rain continuing Tuesday afternoon as the storm moves across Mississippi into the southern part of Tennessee.

    This is going to have far-reaching impacts, far-reaching, into next week,” Burns said.

    STORM SURGE

    A storm surge watch was also issued for the northern Gulf Coast of Florida ahead of the storm.

    Burns said areas along the Gulf Coast could see waves as high as 15 to 20 feet throughout the weekend.

    He said there will be significant beach erosion as well. There will also likely be a high possibility of rip currents.

    “You do not want to be anywhere near that water,” Burns said.

    IS THIS EARLY FOR THESE STORMS TO START FORMING?

    Hurricane season officials starts on June 1 and runs till November. 

    Severe Weather Team 2’s Brad Nitz said there have been 14 named storms in the month of May since 1950. The last tropical storm to form in May was Tropical Storm Bonnie in 2016. 

    The last hurricane to form in the month of May was Hurricane Alma in 1970, Nitz said. 

    Alberto is a name that resonates with Georgians. In 1994, Tropical Storm Alberto dumped flooding rain across north Georgia. At the height of that storm, a total of 27.85 inches of rain fell near Americus, 21.1 inches in just a 24-hour period, which is the record for the state.

    The storm was blamed for 31 deaths in the state of Georgia, mainly due to flooding. 

    AN ACTIVE HURRICANE SEASON

    Severe Weather Team 2’s Katie Walls said that NOAA is predicting an above-average hurricane season for 2018.

    The average amount of named storms in any given year is about 12. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said there could be 10-16 named storms for 2018. 

    The average number storms that strengthen to a hurricane is about six. The hurricane center said there could be five to nine hurricanes for 2018. 

    Of the hurricanes that develop, on average, three become major hurricanes. The hurricane center said one to four of this year’s hurricanes could become major. 

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