Here’s the latest.
- As of 5 p.m. Saturday, a Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the west coast of the Florida peninsula from Bonita Beach to the Anclote River.
- County emergency officials continue to monitor flood-prone areas, but so far no issues have been reported.
- The center of Alberto is forecast to move over the eastern Gulf of Mexico tonight through Sunday night, and approach the northern Gulf Coast on Monday. Heavy rainfall and tropical storm conditions will likely reach the northern Gulf Coast well before the arrival of the center of Alberto.
- The Sunshine Skyway Bridge remains open to all traffic, but the Florida Highway Patrol urges caution as winds pick up.
Hillsborough County is making sandbags available at three locations: Edward Medard Park, 6140 S Turkey Creek Rd, Plant City; E.G. Simmons Park 2401 19th Ave NW, Ruskin; and Ed Radice Sport Complex 14720 Ed Radice Dr. Tampa. A maximum of 10 sandbags per household and 10 sandbags per vehicle may be obtained from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday,
Pasco County has sandbags available at three locations until further notice. They are: Magnolia Valley Golf Course Clubhouse, 7223 Massachusetts Ave., New Port Richey; C-Barn, 30908 Warder Road, San Antonio; and City of New Port Richey, 6420 Pine Hill Road.
Tropical storm warning:
A tropical storm warning has been issued for the coastal areas of Florida from Bonita Beach north to the Anclote River. A storm surge watch also is in effect from Crystal River to the mouth of the Pearl River as the storm could cause tides to run 2-4 feet above normal.
The storm is expected to take a slower northward or north-northeastern turn Saturday night into Sunday, followed by a north-northwest move on Sunday.
What to expect:
- Residents along the west coast can expect tropical storm conditions on Sunday. It is forecast to produce rainfall totals of between 3 and 5 inches, with 8 inches total along the coast.
- A small craft advisory is in effect from Tarpon Springs to the south through Monday. Gale-force winds are possible starting Sunday, and seas could rise 2-4 feet above normal today and 8-11 feet by Sunday morning.
Gov. Scott declares State of Emergency:
As state authorities issued warnings of possible flooding and storm surge because of Subtropical Storm Alberto, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties Saturday morning.
“As we continue to monitor Subtropical Storm Alberto’s northward path toward Florida, it is critically important that all Florida counties have every available resource to keep families safe and prepare for the torrential rain and severe flooding this storm will bring,” he said. The state of emergency declaration is “to make sure that our state and local governments are able to coordinate with federal partners to get the resources they need.”
“Do not think that only areas in the cone will be impacted,” Scott added. “Everyone in our state must be prepared.”
Forecasters have warned Alberto, the first named storm of the season, is likely to bring torrential rains and flooding to the state — particularly the panhandle and south Florida. A tropical storm watch has been declared for the state’s panhandle west of Gulf County, and a storm surge watch has also been declared for the panhandle west of Dixie County. Authorities suggested the alerts could be upgraded to warnings later Saturday. A flood watch has been issued for South Florida through the holiday weekend.
At a weather briefing at the state emergency operations center Saturday morning, authorities urged Floridians to take the storm seriously.
“The only thing that we know about Alberto so far is that we don’t really yet know Alberto,” said Wes Maul, the state’s emergency management director. “The timing is uncertain, the impacts are uncertain, the intensity is uncertain… The entire state is going to see impacts regardless.”
Maul warned that the state’s panhandle region and south Florida are likely to bear the brunt of Alberto’s rains, though the entire state could be threatened by swelling riverbanks, tornadoes or localized flooding.
“Don’t take this subtropical fancy language for granted,” he said.
State meteorologist Amy Godsey echoed the concern. The subtropical label “doesn’t mean the impacts are gonna be any less severe. It actually means the impacts could be more wide-reaching than a typical tropical storm.”
The storm is currently forecast to start affecting the state sometime Sunday, though Godfrey warned Alberto could move faster than expected. If the storm does speed up, it could hit the state six to 12 hours earlier, nearing Florida’s west coast as early as Saturday night.
Forecasters are predicting at least three to six inches of rain across the state, though the western panhandle and south Florida could see rainfall up to 10 inches in the next five days.
“We’re saturated,” Godfrey said. “It won’t take much to create those flood conditions.”
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