Alberto nears the Florida panhandle, bringing rain, gusty winds

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A shelter is open at Davidson Middle School in Crestview at 6261 Old Bethel Road. On the current path it will make landfall as a subtropical torm. somewhere across the western Florida Panhandle. The center of the projected path now is near the Walton-Bay county line.

A satellite image shows Alberto as it nears landfall on the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast on Monday.

On Saturday evening, the storm was located about 95 miles north of the western tip of Cuba and 275 miles southwest of the Dry Tortugas, which is nearly 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC). The barometric pressure was 991mb.

Alberto, which spun up days before the formal start of the 2018 hurricane season, was moving north at about 13 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds near 40 miles per hour, and higher gusts, on Saturday, the NWS said. No significant changes in strength were expected.

Winds of 40 mph extend outward up to 115 miles from the center. A wind gust to 39 miles per hour (63 km/h) was recently observed at Apalachicola, Florida. The tropical storm watch along the north-central Gulf Coast has been discontinued.

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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. A high surf warning was in effect through 7 p.m. Tuesday local time.

Tuesday and Wednesday bring more waves of heavy rain, but a total washout is still unlikely.

Tropical storm watches remain in effect for all coastal Big Bend counties and all of Franklin and Liberty county.

Moore said the rainy weather late this month is expected to push the Columbia area past its average precipitation for May, typically one of the state's driest months.

Normally packed with vacationers over the Memorial Day weekend, beaches along the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast are largely empty as a slowly strengthening storm carrying brisk winds and heavy rain approaches.

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Heavy rain has already fallen in southern states, and flood and flash-flood watches span the region, reaching as far north as North Carolina and Tennessee, the National Weather Service said.

"The impact here will mainly be rain", Kula said.

Jeffrey Medlin, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service's Mobile office, warned that even after the storm passes there will still be swells that could cause unsafe rip currents. "We're doing our best to get that message out".

Subtropical Storm Alberto has gained an early jump on the 2018 hurricane season, heading toward expected landfall sometime Monday on the northern Gulf Coast.

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