Tropical storm Alberto churns off Southeast coast
TOM FOREMAN Jr., Associated Press
Updated 05:41 a.m., Sunday, May 20, 2012
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Tropical Storm Alberto churned off South Carolina’s coastline Sunday, the first storm of its kind to form in a hurricane season that doesn’t officially begin until June 1, forecasters said.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami reported at 5 a.m. EDT Sunday that Alberto, after forming Saturday in the Atlantic, was about 100 miles (160 km) southeast of Charleston, S.C., and a tropical storm watch continues on that state’s coast from Savannah River to the South Santee River.
Alberto was driving maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph), with higher gusts, but had changed little in strength during the early hours Sunday, the center said. But it warned coastal interests from Georgia to the North Carolina’s Outer Banks to monitor Alberto’s progress.
Alberto was named a tropical storm Saturday upon forming in the Atlantic. Tropical storms occasionally occur before the official June 1 start of the hurricane season.
The center’s statement early Sunday said the tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area at least for the ensuing 24 hours. It said tropical storm and dangerous surf conditions are possible.
The hurricane center said a decrease in forward speed was expected through Sunday, with the storm forecast to turn toward the northeast sometime Monday. It added that little change in strength was expected over the next 48 hours.
Tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the center.
Yet LaCorte said Alberto was expected to produce increased waves at beaches in the Carolinas. There also is a high risk of rip currents along the Outer Banks, and a moderate risk along the southeastern beaches and the entire South Carolina coast.
The weather service said there would also be isolated and scattered rain showers along the coast of the Carolinas in coming days.
A forecast map from the hurricane center predicted that the storm would head toward the open sea off the mid-Atlantic region by midweek, even though it’s difficult to accurately predict several days in advance.
Read more in “Storm Surge,” See UPNE tab at the top of this page.