Thousands evacuate as Storm Alberto powers towards Florida

Alberto is predicted to move over the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday weakening further as it heads toward the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region

The heaviest rain bands and strongest winds began coming ashore around 10 a.m. Monday in Panama City Beach. Mayor Tony Kennon said that Alberto has kept tourists away from the town during what could have been its busiest weekend, although a few courageous souls showed up.

The current projected path shows it will make landfall near Pensacola around 1 p.m. Monday as a subtropical storm, with winds of 65 miles per hour.

"There is the risk that Alberto stalls near the coast on Monday and struggles to move inland", said AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey.

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.

Overnight, Subtropical Storm Alberto approaching the Florida panhandle slowed down to half its speed but didn't lose any of its strength, according to the National Hurricane Center.

After reaching the coast, the storm will bring powerful winds and heavy rain as it moves into the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday, the U.S National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. A tropical storm warning is in effect for a stretch of coastline between Aucilla River in Florida's Big Bend and the Alabama-Florida border.

Rain falls on Clearwater Beach by Pier 60 early Sunday morning May 27, 2018, as northbound Subtropical Storm Alberto looms in the gulf to the southwest. No tornadoes were reported Sunday, however, in the Florida Peninsula.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts on Friday, but the first named storm of the 2018 hurricane season is expected to bring some more showers to the Orlando area. "A secondary concern is that even relatively minimal tropical storm winds can topple trees due to saturated soils and water-heavy limbs". "We're talking eight to 12 inches of rain this weekend, and storm surges on the Gulf Coast".

Officials in one Florida Panhandle county say that Subtropical Storm Alberto will likely dump rain on the region, but they're less concerned about storm surge. Alberto is expected to steadily weaken after landfall and become a tropical depression Monday night or Tuesday.

Hardest hit will be small businesses that expected revenue from Memorial Day weekend tourists, Watson said.

Cuba is expected to get as much as 15 inches of rain, the hurricane center said in an advisory Saturday, and the Florida Keys and South Florida could get as many as 10 inches. Inland areas would likely experience winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour from Sunday night through Monday afternoon. Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in all 67 of Florida's counties on Sunday and the office of Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant issued a statement announcing that he had authorized the use of the national guard.

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