As Subtropical Storm Alberto slowly approaches the U.S. Gulf Coast, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi have declared states of emergency. Alberto, the first named Atlantic storm system of 2018, is expected to bring heavy rain and flooding when it makes landfall sometime on Memorial Day.
As Alberto creeps north, the storm is projected to get stronger as it moves over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Per a Reuters report, the National Weather Service predicts wind speeds of nearly 65 miles per hour when the storm eventually strikes the coast. Rainfall between 5 and 10 inches is likely from eastern Louisiana to western Florida, with some coastal areas predicted to receive up to 15 inches.
Florida Governor Rick Scott told every county in the state to be ready for Alberto.
“As we continue to monitor Subtropical Storm Alberto’s northward path toward Florida, it is critically important that all Florida counties have every available resource to keep families safe and prepare for the torrential rain and severe flooding this storm will bring.”
According to a CNN report, Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama followed with a state of emergency order that began at 6 a.m. this morning. The Emergency Operations Center in Clanton began preparing for Alberto this morning as well.
Mississippi’s governor, also declaring an emergency, fears coastal and inland flooding will inundate emergency responders, leave many roads impassable, and put people’s lives at risk. The state’s National Guard division will also be asked to help out where needed.
“Whether you’re a resident of this state or just visiting, you need to stay updated on this evolving tropical system,” said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant in a statement. “I ask everyone to please make final preparations to your family emergency plan, especially those that live in mobile homes and low-lying areas.”
As of Saturday night, Alberto was approximately 95 miles north of Cuba, moving slowly toward the Gulf Coast at 13 miles per hour. A tropical storm warning was issued in Cuba and the Florida Keys last night.
Since Friday, the subtropical storm’s path shifted slightly eastward, reducing the chances Alberto will affect several oil rigs sitting in the Gulf of Mexico. Nevertheless, oil producers Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobile evacuated workers as a precautionary measure.
Alberto was somewhat of a surprise as the 2018 hurricane season does not officially start until June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects this season to be “near- or above-normal.”