Thousands evacuate as Storm Alberto powers toward Florida

  • Thousands evacuate as Storm Alberto powers toward Florida

Thousands evacuate as Storm Alberto powers toward Florida

States of emergency were declared in Florida, Alabama and MS on Saturday as upwards of 15 inches of rain is forecast for the national Memorial Day weekend holiday.

Mark Bowen, Bay County Emergency management director, said at a Sunday afternoon news conference that the concern isn't with storm surge due to the timing of landfall and the tides.

Forecasters warned of life-threatening surf conditions, the possibility of a few brief tornadoes in much of Florida and parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.

The storm was about 130 miles west-southwest of Tampa, moving north at 14 mph, the hurricane center said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency on Saturday for all 67 counties in his state.

Hazardous storm surge warnings were in effect for portions of the Eastern Gulf Coast, including areas Alberto was not expected to pass directly through, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"A flash flood watch starts tonight through at least Tuesday as at least 2-4" of rain are expected to fall with locally higher amounts.

"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. Winds are forecast to reach 60 mph 12 hours and it should be over land in the Florida Panhandle in 24 hours.

Alberto marks the first named storm of the 2018 hurricane season, which officially begins June 1.

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

Your ABC7 First Alert Weather team will keep you informed on the weather for the rest of the Memorial Day weekend with updates online, on-air and through our weather app.

"We're going to unplug everything that we can unplug, we're going to lift it up the best that we can and we're just going to let mother nature take its course", he said.

Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency for the area rebuilding from a devastating flood about two years ago that killed two people and damaged dozens of buildings.

The showery weather made for a dark and damp Memorial Day, the official start of the summer tourist season for vacationers heading to Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island or Charleston beaches.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Ryan Rogers said the storm would be "coming very close to shore" around 8 a.m. Monday and make landfall around noon.