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Flood Watch Issued Ahead Of Subtropical Storm Alberto

Subtropical Storm Alberto could produce tropical storm force winds, minor storm surge, and inland flooding along portions of the Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday and Monday, according to the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network.

Locations near Pensacola to Panama City are most likely to experience these conditions, but the potential hazards from this storm also include coastal regions as far south as Naples, said FPREN meteorologist Jeff Huffman.

“This one is likely to have a very large circulation, and it has connections deep in the tropics,” Huffman said. “So the heavy rain and potential flood risk is there for really the entire state. And keep in mind, it's forecast to almost stall Monday and Tuesday, so the moisture could keep moving in for days."

A Flood Watch has been issued for parts of the Tampa Bay area and Manatee County issued a state of emergency ahead of the storm on Friday. The National Weather Service says there will be coastal hazards as well.

“We're looking for high surf, high winds gusting to 30-35 mph, and high risk of rip currents,” Huffman said.

Hurricane Hunters were scheduled to fly to the western Caribbean on Friday afternoon.

Alberto is slowly moving north and is expected to reach the Gulf of Mexico by Saturday night. Environmental conditions are conducive for Alberto to strengthen into a formidable tropical storm as it slowly drifts into the southeastern Gulf. By Monday, it is forecast to make a turn to the northwest and approach the north-central Gulf Coast where it could make landfall Monday night.

"Conditions are only expected to be marginally favorable for gradual intensification through Saturday -- about the time it is due west of Tampa,” Huffman said. “But once it moves closer to the panhandle, it is likely to slow down. And unfortunately, water temperatures and less wind shear could allow for more rapid strengthening."

The heaviest rain is likely to move into the Tampa Bay area by Sunday morning and continue through Monday afternoon, Huffman said. Strong thunderstorms are also possible every afternoon and evening through Wednesday, he said.

Early rainfall projections through Monday are between 2 and 4 inches, but much higher totals could occur depending on the eventual track of the storm. This could lead to localized urban flooding in low-lying areas. River flooding is also possible in the days following the event.

Breezy conditions and waterspouts are possible along the coast, with a few isolated tornadoes possible across interior sections, Huffman said.

The Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will provide frequent updates on this developing weather story all holiday weekend, both on the Florida Storms social media accounts and in the app Florida Storms.