This weekend is the official start of summer, but for people living along the Gulf Coast, the holiday may be spent in the deluge of a tropical storm instead of at a cookout or watching fireworks. A slow-moving weather system is making its way toward the Gulf Coast and Southeastern seaboard, and by the time it reaches landfall, the National Weather Service says there is a 40 percent chance that it will become the first tropical storm of 2018. Its name would be Alberto. The system is currently located east of Belize in the Carribean Sea. It’s expected to reach the U.S. mainland late Saturday.
The presence of a strong wind shear, dry air, and surface temperatures barely warm enough to support tropical formation means that if the system does develop into Tropical Storm Alberto, it will be fairly weak and not well organized. As it makes its way toward the gulf by Thursday, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and much of Florida are expected to experience heavy rainfall. Whether tropical or subtropical developments occur or not, USA Today reports that meteorologists are calling for downpours heavy enough to cause flooding in parts of Florida and into the Southeastern portion of the United States from Friday through Monday.
The National Weather Service expects up to seven inches of rain in southern Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, which could make this one of Florida’s ten wettest Mays in history. The Florida governor’s office says it is monitoring the situation. The state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission has high-water vehicles in place and ready for rapid deployment if the need arises. After moving through the Southeast, the storm will make its way north, to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S. Memorial Day is expected to be the wettest days for those areas.
Hurricane season doesn’t officially begin until June 1, but as reported by The Washington Post, tropical storms have been happening earlier in the year recently. In 2017, the first tropical storm happened in April. In 2016, January marked the first tropical storm, and that one turned into a hurricane. In 2015, we had Tropical Storm Ana in early May.