TAMPA (FOX 13) - An early tropical system has formed in the western Caribbean Sea and is expected to bring heavy rain to Florida and the Gulf Coast this holiday weekend.
Subtropical Storm Alberto is the first storm of the Atlantic season, which doesn’t officially start for another week. Alberto is sitting east of the Yucatan Peninsula with sustained winds of 40 mph and is expected to move north into the Gulf of Mexico, where conditions are favorable for further development.
Forecast models have come to better agreement on the storm’s track, eventually bringing it ashore on the northern Gulf Coast as a tropical storm, then across the southeastern U.S. But with most of the convection on the east side of the storm, heavy rain is expected to fall across Florida.
Forecasters and officials have warned for days that, regardless of tropical development, this system could dump up to 8 inches of rain on our already saturated state.
Additionally, strong rip currents and higher-than-normal tides are likely along Florida’s beaches over the Memorial Day weekend, and weak tornadoes are a possibility.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1, but pre-season storms are not uncommon. However, experts say those storms usually form in the Atlantic Ocean; a pre-season storm in the Gulf of Mexico is rarer.
There is no relationship between the date of first storm formation and the overall level of activity in a season, meteorologist Dr. Philip Klotzbach pointed out this morning. But yesterday, meteorologists at NOAA announced their expectation of a “near to above-normal” hurricane season.