The storm, coming on the last day of the Memorial Day weekend, was expected to scramble holiday travel. Mayor Tony Kennon said that Alberto has kept tourists away from the town during what could have been its busiest weekend, although a few fearless souls showed up.
The storm was about 95 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, moving northwest at 9 mph, the hurricane centre said in an 11 p.m.
"We are under this tropical-like influence and that is not going to really breakdown this pattern for at least the better part of this week, " said Al Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia. The drier air is weakening some of the storms bubbling up near the center of Alberto.
A storm surge warning was in place from the Suwannee River to Navarre, Florida, and a tropical storm warning covered the area from the Suwannee River to the border of Florida and Alabama. Alberto will bring widespread heavy rain in the Panhandle of Florida and Alabama later today and tonight. The heavy rain along with the saturated grounds could lead to some flash flooding.
Some tornadoes could also be touched off.
With maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour, the storm was moving north at 9 miles per hour.
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Alberto formed days ahead of the official start of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season on June 1. "Alberto might cause a couple hundred million in damage at worst when it does make landfall, and there is still flooding potential".
Waters off the eastern and northern Gulf Coast are expected to be rough through Tuesday. Overnight lows will be in the low 70s.
The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season's first storm, Alberto, is set to make landfall east of Pensacola, Fla., in the early afternoon - just shy of hurricane intensity.
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 unsafe rip currents. He said Alberto's biggest threat will be its heavy rains, with forecasts of anywhere from 4 to 12 inches of rain in some areas.
Subtropical Storm Alberto weakened slightly as it neared Florida's Panhandle, where it should come ashore Monday to spread heavy rains across the southern USA, potentially causing more than $1 billion in economic losses.