Flash flooding likely as Alberto brings heavy afternoon rain

Storm clouds over a lifeguard station on Miami Beach in Florida. File

Storm clouds over a lifeguard station on Miami Beach in Florida. File

At 1 p.m. Monday, Sub Tropical Storm Alberto was making landfall around Panama City, Florida.

Alberto could cause US$400 million to US$500 million across the region, including damage to cars crushed by toppled trees, wrecked roofs and flooding, Watson said in an interview. The NHC canceled a tropical storm warning west of the Alabama/Florida border.

The moisture pouring northward coincides with Subtropical Storm Alberto, which approached the Florida Panhandle from the Gulf on Monday morning with sustained winds of up to 65 miles per hour. It had winds of up to 60 miles per hour and was expected to increase to tropical storm conditions as it gets closer to shore.

Authorities in Florida's Franklin and Taylor counties issued mandatory evacuation orders for thousands of coastal residents.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for parts of MS and Alabama, meaning the conditions for a full storm are possible in the next 48 hours.

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"Given the short period of time before Alberto makes landfall, its overall ragged appearance, and proximity to dry air, little change in strength is expected before the subtropical storm reaches the coast", said John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist at the hurricane center.

Outer rain bands from the storm have already begun affecting areas as far away as North Carolina as Alberto begins to take on the typical appearance of a tropical storm, with clouds and thunderstorms beginning to wrap counterclockwise around the center of circulation.

Heavy rains were expected across Florida and in parts of Alabama and Georgia.

Though the Atlantic hurricane season doesn't officially start until Friday, Alberto was throwing disarray into long holiday weekend plans along the Gulf Coast.

Duffey said the storm is expected to remain relatively mild. A storm surge watch means life-threatening inundations are possible from rising water moving inland from the coast.

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He added that Cyclone Mekunu has slowed down and that it is no longer categorized as a hurricane but an orbital storm. The Port of Salalah, a key gateway for the country, is also closed with its cranes secured against the pounding rain.

Subtropical Storm Alberto moves northbound over Northwest Florida Monday evening bringing heavy rain, gusty winds and a risk of severe storms to South Alabama and South Georgia. At night, lows will hit near 74.

It is forecast to drop as much as 30cm (12in) of rain across MS to western Georgia and to bring storm swells of about 60-120cm (2-4ft) to low-lying areas.

Jeffrey Medlin, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service's Mobile office, warned that even after the storm moves north there will still be swells coming up from the south that could cause risky rip currents.

As several states in the Southeast declare emergencies ahead of Subtropical Storm Alberto, forecasters in Upstate New York are tracking its progress northward.

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