Storm Alberto churns toward Florida, Alabama and Mississippi

Alberto is likely to make landfall Monday between New Orleans and Destin Florida before moving into Mississippi and Alabama by Tuesday

Alberto is likely to make landfall Monday between New Orleans and Destin Florida before moving into Mississippi and Alabama by Tuesday

Four days ahead of the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, Subtropical Storm Alberto announced itself with heavy rains and strong winds early Monday in western portion of the Florida Panhandle, where it's expected to make landfall Monday afternoon.

A storm surge watch remained in effect for much of Northern Florida, from the Suwannee to Navarre in the Panhandle.

Forecasters say heavy rains from Subtropical Storm Alberto could cause flooding across most of SC.

In the tropics, the story has been Subtropical Storm Alberto, which makes landfall later today across the Panhandle of Florida. A wave of showers rotating around Alberto will reach the area gradually, moving north along with the storm, which will be approaching the Gulf Coast later tonight as the main focus continues to be on Alberto. The storm will weaken as it moves north through Tennessee and Kentucky into the Ohio Valley but will continue to produce large amounts of rain. And in the Tampa Bay area on the central Gulf Coast, cities offered sandbags for homeowners anxious about floods.

This graphic, created by the NWS/NCEP Weather Prediction Center, shows rainfall potential for Subtropical Storm Alberto.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued tropical storm warnings for parts of Florida and Alabama, saying tropical storm conditions are possible there by Sunday night. Warnings about storm surges and high surf were aired along the coast on either side of Apalachicola on Monday. States of emergency have been declared in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama.

As the Gulf Coast endures the first named storm of the 2018 hurricane season, the Carolinas will need to keep an eye out for heavy rain and flooding this week. The strongest tropical thunderstorms could also have rainfall rates exceeding 2 inches per hour, which could trigger flash flooding.

"We are under this tropical-like influence and that is not going to really breakdown this pattern for at least the better part of this week, " said Al Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia.

Persistent rain is not expected to ease until midweek, forecasters said.

Maximum sustained winds are near 50 miles per hour with higher gusts.

An EOSDIS satellite's view of subtropical storm Alberto to the south west of the Florida seen in a handout photo made available by Nasa Worldview, on May 27, 2018, by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The only case Klotzbach could find of a subtropical storm making landfall in the continental USA was 2011's Lee, which transitioned to a subtropical storm before coming ashore in southern Louisiana on September 4, 2011.

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