Florida, Gulf prepare for subtropical storm Alberto

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The National Hurricane Center on Thursday said there's an 80 percent chance that Invest 90L will form into a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico by Saturday.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins in June, but we're getting started early with the National Hurricane Center's first official forecast of Subtropical Storm Alberto. "The main impact will be heavy rains that could exacerbate rivers and areas prone to flooding".

Regardless of whether this becomes a tropical depression or storm, it will provide copious amounts of rain to Florida and parts of the Gulf coast. It will send a plume of tropical moisture towards the Gulf Coast for the weekend and that means very heavy rainfall is possible. Subtropical storms can develop into tropical storms, which in turn can strengthen into hurricanes.

Latest satellite imagery and surface observations indicate that the storm, located east of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, has become better defined and thunderstorm activity has increased and become better organized.

But, there is also a concern about tornadoes with southeast Florida on the more turbulent eastern side of the low pressure system moving through the Gulf.

Tropical depression formation expected Saturday
Alberto forms in the Gulf, flooding rains forecast

As of 11 a.m., Alberto had sustained winds of 40 miles per hour and was moving north-northeast at 6 miles per hour.

Alberto is expected to continue moving northward and is expected to make landfall somewhere on the northern Gulf Coast on Monday.

An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the low this afternoon.

The system is forecast to bring an estimated 3-6 inches of rain to Tampa Bay over the weekend, said Rodney Wynn, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Ruskin. In a purely tropical system, the highest winds would be closer to the center. It will disrupt many weekend plans from the beaches and much farther inland with repeated rounds of heavy rain.

The Government of Cuba has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio. For more information, consult products from your local weather office. "Heavy rain from [the storm] is still likely to be its number one threat, though we may also need to be concerned with storm surge damage and wind damage if the storm does manage to over-achieve".

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