Flash flood watch issued for Triangle ahead of Alberto's downpours

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Subtropical Storm Alberto gained the early jump on the 2018 hurricane season as it headed toward anticipated landfall sometime Monday on the northern Gulf Coast, where white sandy beaches emptied of their usual Memorial Day crowds.

The slow-moving system is expected to pack heavy rains and winds over the Memorial Day weekend.

Due to the threat of heavy rain and potential flooding, Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties. "I ask everyone to please make final preparations to your family emergency plan, especially those that live in mobile homes and low-lying areas".

The 40-mph winds extend outward up to 140 miles, mostly to the east of the center, which prompted the tropical storm warning for Manatee, Sarasota and the other coastal counties.

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

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.

A more widespread area of rain and embedded storms will arrive early Tuesday and last all day before Alberto moves north of Alabama by Wednesday. Storms will likely produce areas of heavy rain and tropical downpours.

The new forecast track centers landfall in the Florida panhandle.

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A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for ...

There is a 60 percent chance of rain Monday and 50 percent that night, and tropical storm conditions are possible.

The NWS said waves as high as 5.5 metres could pound the popular Gulf beaches in Baldwin County, Alabama, and northwestern Florida on Monday.

Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler at Enki Research in Savannah said the main concern from the subtropical storm is flooding. A more destructive storm could develop over the next 48 hours.

Cuba maintained its tropical storm watch for the province of Pinar del Rio, while Mexico cancelled its watch for the resort-dotted coast of the Yucatan peninsula, where the storm brought heavy rain.

Subtropical Storm Alberto continued its march toward the Florida Panhandle on Sunday with freshening winds and a shield of rain that stretched from the Emerald Coast to the Florida Keys.

However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) does not expect this year's hurricane season - which starts on June 1st - to be as destructive as 2017.