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While Alberto is expected to target the upper Gulf Coast this holiday weekend, the risk for major flooding in the southeastern United States may extend beyond Memorial Day.
Alberto formed on Friday east of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and will track northward through the Gulf of Mexico this holiday weekend, strengthening in the process.
Landfall is anticipated on the Florida Panhandle.
Even if Alberto fails to become a hurricane, flooding rain will remain the most widespread danger to lives and property across the Southeast. Dangerous seas, damaging winds, storm surge flooding and isolated tornadoes are among the other threats.
As the storm churns northward, downpours will expand over the Southeast into Memorial Day.
Anyone spending Memorial Day in Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida; Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; and Birmingham, Alabama; should remain vigilant for flooding downpours this holiday weekend.
The heaviest rain and greatest risk for flooding, however, may focus on communities from Tampa, Tallahassee and Pensacola, Florida, to Mobile, Alabama.
"The flood risk is not expected to end with Alberto making landfall on Memorial Day," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
The risk for damaging winds will quickly lessen once the storm moves inland, but torrential rain may continue to be unleashed.
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“A major threat to lives and property may unfold as the slow movement of Alberto can push rain totals past 10 inches in some communities along the upper Gulf Coast,” according to Anderson.
Rain totals of 4-8 inches are expected across northern Alabama and into western Kentucky into midweek.
"There can also be another area of enhanced rainfall along the southern and southeastern slopes of the southern Appalachians," AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski added.
The excessive rain can lead to significant flooding that can put some homes in the hardest-hit areas under water, forcing residents to evacuate.
Streams and rivers can overflow their banks, further inundating neighboring land, roads and communities.
The flooding can close or damage roads and bridges, creating major travel disruptions. Air and rail travel may also be severely impacted.
As a result, there can be school closures and disruptions to daily routines.
The exact track of Alberto will determine which areas of the Southeast will face the most excessive rain totals and greatest risk for flooding.
A track more to the east than currently expected would lead to the greatest flood threat continuing up I-65 to Nashville, while more of I-55 may be threatened if Alberto veers more to the west.
All residents of the Southeast are encouraged to review flood preparation tips and evacuation plans, in the event orders are issued by authorities.
Despite the initial dangers to lives and property, the torrential rain will erase the abnormally dry conditions that remained across the upper Gulf Coast, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor's report on Thursday, May 24.
"There will be a sharp contrast in the weather on Alberto’s western side," Anderson said. "Winds will be much lighter west of the storm’s track, and drier air being pulled into the storm will keep these areas largely rain-free."
Later this week, Alberto will get picked up by another storm system and track over a portion of the Great Lakes and Northeast.
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