Subtropical Storm Alberto continues headed toward the Gulf

Shift in direction may mean less impact on metro area

Don Ames
May 26, 2018 - 5:49 am

Alberto is still not very well organized this morning.  

After turning north-northeastward overnight, subtropical storm Alberto is now moving northward toward the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

This general motion, with a increase in forward speed is expected throughout the day today, taking the center of Alberto through the Yucatan Channel.

New Orleans is now barely in the cone for possible landfall of Alberto. The predicted landfall has been shifted eastward from one side of Alabama to the other. If that track holds, New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana will feel less impact from Alberto.

U.S. forecasters have issued a tropical storm watch for parts of the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle southwest of Tallahassee to the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Heavy rainfall is expected to affect Western Cuba, Florida and the northeastern Gulf Coast through the weekend.

At 7 a.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Alberto was moving northward toward the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and was centered about 120 miles east northeast of Cozumel, Mexico. Its top sustained winds remained at 40 mph. A gradual strengthening was expected through the weekend as it moves north. 

A turn to the northwest is forecast on Sunday as the storm rotates around a developing mid- to upper-level low in the central Gulf of Mexico. Alberto is predicted to be very near the northern Gulf Coast in about 72 hours, and should then turn northward and northeastward when it moves inland over the eastern U.S.  The models are in fairly good agreement this cycle, but they have trended a bit faster from previous runs.  The NHC track forecast has been adjusted accordingly, and lies fairly close to the latest consensus aids.

Only slow strengthening is expected today due to the broad nature of the system and continued influences of westerly shear and dry air.  There is an opportunity for more significant strengthening tonight and Sunday when the shear is expected to lessen. 

Models suggest that Alberto will likely make a transition to a tropical storm in about 36 hours, but only one model has Alberto becoming a hurricane before it reaches the coast.  Although a hurricane watch could still be required for a portion of the Gulf Coast later today, the recent intensity guidance trends suggest that this possibility is decreasing.

TROPICAL STORM WATCH IN EFFECT from Indian Pass, Florida to Grand Isle, including metro New Orleans and lakes Ponchartrain and Maurepas. Tropical Storm force conditions may start Sunday afternoon.

STORM SURGE WATCH from mouth of River east, does not include Lake Pontchartrain. Surge of 1-2' in Lake and 3' for coastal areas.

FLASH FLOOD WATCH in effect through Saturday afternoon. 4-6" possible through Saturday evening.

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