Subtropical Storm Alberto weakened slightly as it neared Florida's Panhandle, where it should come ashore Monday to spread heavy rains across the southern US, potentially causing more than $1 billion in economic losses.
The hurricane center said Sunday that a tropical storm warning was in effect from Bonita Beach, Florida, to the Mississippi-Alabama border.
Alberto's high winds also led to concerns over the threat of storm surge and unsafe rip currents from the coasts of Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.
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Forecasters had feared the storm could bring risky high water to southern coastal states and possible tornadoes.
We will have to watch the far eastern side of Alabama today once we get a little heating and the atmosphere destabilizes because storms that form could produce strong wind gusts or even spin up tornadoes.
Heavy rainfall and flash flooding were occurring over parts of the Florida Panhandle into Alabama into Monday evening.
Now that Alberto is over land, weakening to a depression is expected overnight and a remnant low Tuesday afternoon as it continues to move north toward Tennessee.
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Another 1 to 2 inches of rain is expected through Sunday in the Manatee-Sarasota area, though specific areas could receive much more. As the center of Alberto pulls north and slightly west, the tail is forecast to swing toward South Florida.
Franklin County, in the Florida Panhandle, has issued a mandatory evacuation for its barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico affecting some 4,200 housing units, while Taylor County, to the east, has a voluntary evacuation order in place for its coastal areas.
Tropical Storm Alberto has already caused major rain and wind as it passed by the west coast of Cuba. Alberto formed several days ahead of the June 1 official start of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season. "It was a constant rain but not a heavy rain", said Regina Myers, emergency management director in Walker County northwest of Birmingham. As it travels up the warm waters of the Gulf, it could well become a full tropical storm.
"I'm doing this because every time we have a hard rain, it floods at my house", resident Tommy Whitlock told the Associated Press.
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In late May 2016, Tropical Storm Bonnie hit parts of the Southeastern United States and the Bahamas, costing more than $640,000 in damage and causing two deaths.