Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as the subtropical Storm Alberto approaches the Florida panhandle.
The storm has caused a state of emergency to be declared in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and is maintaining its strength as it heads towards the Gulf Coast.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management said in a statement on Sunday that a mandatory evacuation has been issued in Franklin County, which is in the Florida Panhandle, with the evacuations affecting about 4,200 homes.
Rain falls on Clearwater Beach, Florida by Pier 60 early on Sunday morning, as the northbound Subtropical Storm Alberto looms
The Gulf Coast is bracing for Subtropical Storm Alberto this Memorial Day Weekend. A satellite image taken Saturday at 5.30pm ET shows the storm
The first named storm of the year, Alberto gained an early jump on the 2018 hurricane season and is expected to make landfall sometime on Monday on the northern Gulf Coast with some saying that it could bring between four and 12 inches (10-30 centimeters) of rain in some areas as well as bringing a few tornadoes.
It has hurtled through the Caribbean Sea and is threatening to bring heavy rainfall, mudslides, and flash floods to parts of Mexico, Cuba, Florida and the US Gulf Coast this Memorial Day Weekend.
Gusty showers were to begin lashing parts of Florida on Sunday, and authorities were warning of the possibility of flash flooding.
Alabama, Florida and Mississippi are under states of emergency ahead of Subtropical Storm Alberto. Rainfall predictions are seen above
The hurricane center said a tropical storm warning was in effect from the Suwannee River in Florida to the Mississippi-Alabama state line.
The storm’s approach also triggered mandatory evacuations of some small, sparsely populated Gulf Coast barrier islands in one Florida county.
Though the Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t officially start until Friday, Alberto has thrown long holiday weekend plans in disarray up and down Florida’s Gulf Coast, causing tourists and Memorial Day crowds to abandon the sandy white beaches.
And just as Memorial Day marked summer’s unofficial start in the US, Alberto welcomed the unofficial start of what forecasters recently predicted would be an active hurricane season.
In Southern Alabama, Mississippi and the western Florida panhandle there could be as much as one foot of rain. Flooding is expected to be heavy as a result
A cyclist tries to stay dry along Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, Florida, on Friday as they are drenched by torrential rain from the storm
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said that on Monday, at 2 am EDT, Alberto was maintaining its strength as it approached the Florida panhandle and was centered about 115 miles (185 kilometers) south-southwest of Panama City.
The storm had sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) as it approached the northern Gulf of Mexico.
In a statement, the Hurricane Center said: ‘These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.’
‘On the forecast track, the center of Alberto will move over the northern Gulf of Mexico overnight and cross the northern Gulf Coast in the warning area on Monday,’ it said.
As well as life-threatening surf conditions, it warned of the possibility of a few brief tornadoes in much of Florida and parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. Heavy rains are also expected in many areas.
Lifeguards posted red flags along the white sands of Pensacola Beach, where swimming and wading were banned amid high surf and dangerous conditions.
Alicia Herrera visiting from Germany doesn’t let dark clouds ruin her day at beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Friday
A man rides a bicycle down a flooded road as Subtropical Storm Alberto passes by the west coast of Cuba, in Bahia Honda on Saturday
Family members shovel sand into bags at a Harrison County Road Department sand bag location, preparing for Subtropical Storm Alberto
The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center shifts the storm farther east with a potential landfall near the Alabama-Florida state line. Tropical storm alerts are seen above
A subtropical storm like Alberto has a less defined and cooler center than a tropical storm, and its strongest winds are found farther from its center.
Subtropical storms can develop into tropical storms, which in turn can strengthen into hurricanes.
Forecasters cautioned that heavy rain and tropical storm conditions could reach the northern Gulf Coast well ahead of the center of Alberto making landfall.
Empty beaches and low-hanging clouds are shown, Friday, May 25, 2018, at Fort Lauderdale Beach
Flood alerts are seen on the map above. Residents have been preparing for the storm by filling sandbags around their properties
The storm prompted Florida, Alabama and Mississippi to launch emergency preparations over the weekend amid expectations Alberto would reach land sometime Monday.
Rough conditions were expected to roil the seas off the eastern and northern Gulf Coast region through Tuesday.
Earlier, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant had declared a state of emergency as the storm continued on its potentially destructive path.
Florida governor Rick Scott also declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties on Saturday morning to ‘prepare for the torrential rain and severe flooding this storm will bring’.
A view of a partially flooded farm as Subtropical Storm Alberto passes by the west coast of Cuba, in Bahia Honda, Cuba, on May 26
Hannibal and Emily Baldwin pose for a wedding photo under an umbrella outside the Casa Marina Resort in Key West, Fla. The couple had planned an outdoor wedding, but the evening ceremony and reception were moved inside due to rain from Subtropical Storm Alberto
In a tweet from Saturday, Governor Bryant said he signed an order making the Mississippi National Guard and other state resources available should they become necessary.
Meanwhile, at a briefing at the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee, authorities urged Floridians to take the storm seriously.
Mark Bowen, the Bay County Emergency management director, said at a Sunday afternoon news conference that Alberto’s biggest threat will be its heavy rains, with forecasts of anywhere from four to 12 inches (10-30 centimeters) of rain in some areas.
Rain falls on Clearwater Beach by Pier 60 early Sunday morning with officials warning residents to take the subtropical storm seriously
In Gulf County, T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park began evacuations Sunday morning.
In Miami, organizers called off the sea portion of the Miami Beach Air & Sea Show on Sunday because of heavy rain and rough waters.
While in the Tampa Bay area on the central Gulf Coast, cities offered sandbags for homeowners worried about floods.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a hurricane season forecast on Thursday that predicts 10 to 16 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes.
Tommy Whitlock, left, places a filled sand bag onto his trailer at a Harrison County Road Department sand bag location, as his friend Joseph Buckner adjusts the load while preparing for Subtropical Storm Alberto to make its way through the Gulf of Mexico in Gulfport, Mississippi
Gulfport, Mississippi, residents shovel sand into bags at a Harrison County Road Department sand bagging location, while preparing for Subtropical Storm Alberto
One to four hurricanes could be ‘major’ with sustained winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph).
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
‘There are no strong climate signals saying it’s going to be extremely active, like last year, or extremely weak,’ said Gerry Bell, the lead hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
Sea turtle nest monitors with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium return in the rain from north end of Clearwater Beach, as rain falls on the beach early on Sunday morning