The first named storm of this year’s hurricane season is here. The National Hurricane Center says Alberto, a subtropical storm, is heading toward the Gulf of Mexico.
As of Friday morning, Alberto was expected to result in heavy rains in Florida, the northeastern Gulf Coast, the Yucatan Peninsula, and western Cuba during the weekend. Top winds were 40 miles per hour. The storm initially formed near Cozumel, Mexico and was moving toward the Gulf Coast.
For parts of the U.S., Alberto could bring a rainy Memorial Day weekend. reports that the storm brings threats of flooding, strong winds, and tornadoes to the Southeast, and flood watches are in effect for parts of that region.
Parts of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana have already seen heavy rain this week, meaning the deluges that could accompany a tropical storm may leave those communities vulnerable to flash flooding and river flooding.
The National Weather Service warned take Alberto seriously even if it's a subtropical storm, because it will still bring very heavy rainfall. A subtropical storm has a less defined and cooler center than a tropical storm, and its strongest winds are found farther from its center. Subtropical storms can develop into tropical storms, which in turn can strengthen into hurricanes.
There’s a chance Alberto could form into a full tropical storm during the weekend as it travels over the Gulf of Mexico. It’s pretty rare for a storm like this to form in the Gulf in May; it’s only happened three other times in NOAA’s database, and the last time it happened was in 1976.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.