Tornadoes a concern for South Florida as Alberto moves north

Amount of rainfall for region depends on where Alberto's tail lands

By Bryan Norcross - Hurricane Specialist

MIAMI - Subtropical Storm Alberto is organizing and strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico, more or less on schedule. The track has shifted a bit more to the east or closer to the Florida peninsula. This has had two effects.

First, winds over 40 mph may impact much of the west coast of the state Sunday, including the Fort Myers and Tampa Bay coastal areas. A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Gulf Coast from the Fort Myers area all the way around through the Panhandle and including the Alabama coast. This does not involve South Florida. 

And second, the shift to the east pushed the main tail of the comma-shape storm mostly just offshore of the Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach metro areas. As a result, the steady continuous rain has mostly been over the ocean, while only surges of heavy rain have affected the land areas. 

The big question for South Florida is how will the location and geometry of Alberto's tail - it's main moisture feed - change as the storm's center begins moving northwest toward the western Florida Panhandle and away from the Peninsula. That move is likely to pull the tail closer to South Florida.

Tornadoes are another concern Sunday in South Florida. There were some rotating cells in the downpours near the coast Sunday morning. The threat will continue through Sunday and into Monday.

The bottom line for South Florida is that the weather will be different Sunday and Monday than it was Saturday. There will be some breaks in the clouds, and some periods may be quite nice.

Still, heavy, persistent tropical thunderstorms are likely in some areas, but not everywhere all the time. Flooding rain is still possible, if a very heavy line of storms happens to affect the same area over and over. 

The weather Monday is an open question, depending on where the main tail of Alberto ends up. As I mentioned Saturday, predicting exactly where that relatively narrow band of torrential rain will set up is impossible, plus or minus 50 miles. So far Sunday, we've been lucky it's just offshore. Be aware that it could be over us later Sunday and Monday.

The European model forecast of atmospheric moisture which shows where the corridor of rain is, is forecast to move back over South Florida.

Be ready for quickly changing weather conditions the next two days in South Florida.

Alberto will make landfall Monday -- most likely in the Florida Panhandle.

It is expected to be a strong tropical storm. The top winds could reach hurricane strength right before landfall. Damaging wind, flooding rain, tornadoes, and coastal flooding from storm surge up to 2 to 4 feet are all possible across the Panhandle and Big Bend of Florida.

After the center of Alberto moves over land, it will still have something of a tail, which will affect South Florida until about Wednesday. After that, drier air should push in.

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