Wind and storm surge watches hit the Gulf Coast of Florida late Friday as Alberto crept further north.
At 17 o'clock. Advising meteorologists, the storm, which was located 85 miles south of Cozumel, Mexico, had started back north about 2 miles per hour with sustained 40 mph winds. The storm is expected to pass near the Yucatan coast Friday night and continue northward over the weekend, increasing in intensity.
On Friday night, meteorologists said they expected dry air to keep the storm on a hurricane strength, but warned that it might change.
Broad winds, now 140 miles from the center of the storm, could help drive a two to four-foot storm surge over parts of the Gulf Coast, where a storm surge from the Big Bend in Florida to the mouth of the Mississippi River spread. Tropical storm conditions can be felt within 48 hours along the Panhandle to East Louisiana.
Heavy rains remain the storm's biggest storm threat, with the keys expected to get four to eight inches. Up to 12 inches could fall in some places. The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for South Florida, which began at 8 am from Saturday to 8 pm. Sunday.
Cuba and the Yucatán Peninsula could reach 10 to 15 inches, with up to 25 inches in heavier areas, increasing the risk of dangerous flash floods.
While the center of the storm is likely to remain off the coast of Florida, blowing blowing from the southwest, water could jam along the coast. Once it gets ashore, it could prevent further flooding.
"If it goes inland, it will be a slow movers, so this could be a terrible flood event up there," said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.
The weather station increased storm status on Friday after local buoys were reported. It was termed subtropical because high-level winds continue to tip and leave it askew. A subtropical system carries the same dangers as tropical storms – heavy rain and wind – but lacks the warm center. Stronger winds also wrap around the edges of the storm rather than around the center.
When it moves north, it is expected that the shear will subside and the storm can turn into a more dangerous tropical storm water.
"In the northern Gulf, the upper winds will not be an issue anymore, the storm is getting better organized and we expect it to strengthen," said Feltgen. "You certainly can not rule out that it could become a hurricane."