MIAMI BEACH, Fla. –headed toward an expected landing fall sometime on Monday on the northern Gulf Coast, where white sand beaches emptied of their usual folk gathering on Memorial Day. And just as the long holiday weekend marked the unofficial start of the summer in the US, Alberto gave him the unofficial start of what the forecasters had recently predicted for an active hurricane season.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday at 11 pm Alberto maintained his force as she approached Floranta Panhandle and was centered about 50 miles south of Panama City, Florida. The storm, which was expected to land later on Monday, had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and moved north at 8 miles per hour.
On Sunday, a preview of Alberto's impact was seen in Cuba, where the island suffered four inches of rainfall less than eight hours, reports CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez from Panama City.
Forecasters warned of life-threatening surfing conditions, the possibility of a few short tornadoes across much of Florida and parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. And it is expected that heavy rains will be expected in many areas.
"Given the short period before Alberto goes ashore, its overall ragged appearance and its proximity to dry air, little change in strength is expected before the subtropical storm reaches the coast," said John Cangialosi, a hurricane Hurricane Center Specialist
Once Alberto was inland, deprived of the warm waters fueling tropical weather systems, it was expected that the storm would steadily weaken. A subtropical storm like Alberto has a less defined and cooler center than a tropical storm, and its strongest winds are farther from its center. Subtropical storms can develop into tropical storms, which in turn can amplify into hurricanes.
Harsh conditions were expected to shake the oceans off the eastern and northern Gulf Coast region by Tuesday.
Lifeguards posted red flags on the white sands of Pensacola Beach, where swimming and wading were prohibited in high surf and dangerous conditions.
"People can not go into the water," said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford. "There could be legal consequences if they go into the water because they are very dangerous."
Gusty showers began whipping parts of Florida on Sunday, and the authorities warned of the possibility of flash floods. The hurricane center said a tropical storm warning from the Suwannee River in Florida to the Mississippi-Alabama state border was effective. About 400 customers along Florida's Tampa Bay and Panhandle were on Monday morning, according to the Florida Emergency Management Division
Mark Bowen, Bay County Emergency Management Director, said Alberto's biggest threat was heavy rain, with predictions from somewhere 4-12 inches of rain in some areas. Storm surges were less worrying because Alberto's arrival did not coincide with tide, he said.
Some tourists said that the rainy weather would not dampen their vacation.
Janet Rhumes said her group of friends from Kansas had been planning their Memorial Day weekend since October at Navarre Beach, and no tropical storm could stop them.
"We've never seen one before and celebrate a friend's 20th birthday," Rhumes told the Northwest Florida Daily News. "How many times can you say you rode a storm?"
Rhumes said her group was preparing for the storm by providing food.
"We'll play cards and if there's a break, I'll go down to the beach," she said, "we'll hang out and see how it goes on."
The approach of the storm solved the compulsory evacuations of a few smaller ones The Florida Division of Emergency Management said in a statement on Sunday that in Franklin County a mandatory evacuation for all local barrier islands and those in the county that are located right on the coast in Motorhomes or amusement parks have been granted.
In Taylor County, there were voluntary evacuations for those in coastal areas and beach communities, campers, RV parks, and low-lying areas. "In Gulf County, TH Stone Memorial The St. Joseph Peninsula State Park began evacuating on Sunday morning.
In Miami, the organizers called the Miami Beach maritime section Sunday Air & Sea Show due to heavy rain and rough waters. And in the area of Tampa Bay on the central Gulf Coast, cities offered sandbags to homeowners who were worried about flooding.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a hurricane season on Thursday calling for 10 to 16 named storms involving five to nine hurricanes. One to four hurricanes could be "major" with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour.
If this prognosis is true, it would cause an almost normal or over normal season. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six are hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.