Florida panhandle braces as Alberto approaches

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A tropical storm warning has been issued for the west coast of the Florida peninsula from Bonita Beach to the Anclote River.

The National Weather Service's office in Tampa said in a briefing Saturday that winds from Alberto would increase late Saturday night, persisting during the day Sunday, then diminish later Sunday night.

Forecasters also warned that the storm could drop 2 inches of rain in SC, up to 4 inches in isolated areas, and cause flooding.

In Gulf Shores, Alabama, webcams showed beaches beginning to fill up as the storm's track shifted slightly east away from the region, but red flags on the beach warned beachgoers to stay out of the rough water.

Subtropical Storm Alberto is approaching the Florida panhandle and is expected to make landfall sometime Monday.

Tropical moisture from Alberto will push toward North Carolina through the night.

Subtropical Storm Alberto is disrupting plans for Memorial Day barbecues and beach outings in Alabama, Florida and MS, as the storm continues to churn north through the Gulf of Mexico.

In Taylor County, there were voluntary evacuations for those in coastal zones and beach communities, mobile homes, RV parks and low-lying areas.

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MS governor Phil Bryant has declared a state of emergency as the storm moves toward the state's coast.

Heavy downpours were expected to begin lashing parts of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Sunday.

Florida governor Rick Scott also declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties Saturday morning to 'prepare for the torrential rain and severe flooding this storm will bring'.

At 2 a.m. EDT Sunday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Alberto was about 380 miles (615 kilometers) south of Apalachicola, Florida, and moving north-northeast at 13 mph (20 kph). "We're talking eight to 12 inches of rain this weekend, and storm surges on the Gulf Coast".

Alberto is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over western Cuba, South Florida and the Florida Keys, the National Hurricane Center said Sunday. And just as Memorial Day marked summer's unofficial start in the U.S., Alberto gave it the unofficial start of what forecasters recently predicted would be an active hurricane season.

Hurricane season doesn't officially begin until June 1, but Alberto apparently missed the memo. Because of expected deteriorating weather, the sandbag distribution points will not be open Sunday, the county said.

Normally packed with vacationers over Memorial Day weekend, beaches along the eastern US Gulf Coast were largely empty on Sunday as a slowly intensifying storm carrying brisk winds and heavy rain approached.

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For us, the workweek is rather quiet with the best chance of storms not popping up until Friday afternoon. The storm that was expected to make landfall later Monday had maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (100 kph). The storm prompted Florida, Alabama and MS to launch emergency preparations over the weekend amid expectations Alberto would reach land sometime Monday. Essentially, the characteristics of a subtropical system mean it lacks the punch to quickly increase in strength and become a hurricane.

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