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System in Gulf of Mexico to become Tropical Storm Alberto today, forecasters say

Angie DiMichele and Bill Kearney, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Potential Tropical Cyclone One brewing in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to become a tropical storm on Wednesday and has prompted the National Hurricane Center to issue a tropical storm warning for parts of Texas and coastal Mexico.

If the disturbance strengthens into a tropical storm — the first of the season — it will be named Alberto. Forecasters said it won’t affect Florida.

Meanwhile, a disturbance in the Atlantic has a 20% chance of developing in the next seven days and has a trajectory that will affect North Florida. The system is likely to bring rain to North Florida. Forecasters said South Florida will have a wet week regardless of where the Atlantic disturbance travels.

As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Gulf storm was 295 miles southeast of Brownsville, Texas, moving west-northwest at 8 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Forecasters are concerned about rainfall amounts, particularly in areas north of the center of the storm.

It is expected to strengthen and make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday as a tropical storm in northeastern Mexico, with tropical storm force winds, and significant rainfall, extending into the U.S.

The NHC has expanded the tropical storm warning north, to San Luis Pass near Houston.

The warnings reach south to the mouth of the Rio Grande River. The government of Mexico also has issued a tropical storm warning for the northeastern coast of Mexico, south to Puerto de Altamira.

The hurricane center said the disturbance is “quite large” and has tropical-storm-force winds extending outward, up to 415 miles to the northeast of the center, toward South Texas.

The system is expected to continue making its turn to the west Tuesday night, and will reach the Gulf coast of Mexico by Wednesday night.

Forecasters urged people to not focus solely on the storm’s forecast track.

“The disturbance is very large with rainfall, coastal flooding, and wind impacts likely to occur far from the center along the coasts of Texas and northeastern Mexico,” the hurricane center said.

Rainfall could be significant and potentially dangerous, given the mountainous terrain in some of the region.

Rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches across northeast Mexico into South Texas are possible, with maximum totals of 15 inches. Flash flooding and mudslides are potential hazards.

Storm surge also is a concern, particularly along the flatter areas of the Texas coast. Galveston Bay could see 2 to 4 feet of surge.


Separate from the potential tropical storm, forecasters are also watching two other potential systems, one of which could affect Florida.

As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, a disturbance in the same area of the Gulf of Mexico as the potential tropical storm had a 30% chance of forming in the next seven days. It is expected to move slowly west-northwest or northwest and is expected to develop over the southwestern Gulf over the weekend.

Meanwhile, forecasters are watching an area of storminess that several hundred miles east of the central Bahamas and could approach the southern U.S. East Coast, potentially including Florida, late this week.

It has a 20% chance of development over the next seven days, with some slow development possible thereafter while the system moves westward or west-northwestward.

The 2024 hurricane season, which officially began June 1, is expected to be extremely active. Monday’s watch was the first of the 2024 hurricane season, which forecasters say will be a strong one.

In its annual May outlook, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that the 2024 hurricane season has an 85% chance of being above normal, with 17 to 25 named storms with minimum sustained winds of 39 mph, and eight to 13 hurricanes. An average year has 14 named storms and seven hurricanes.

In addition, NOAA has forecast four to seven major hurricanes for 2024, meaning those that are Category 3 or above.

Experts at Colorado State University stated in their 2024 forecast that the U.S. East Coast, including Florida, had a 34% chance of a major hurricane making landfall this year. The average from 1880-2020 was 21%.

Forecasters say that the record-warm water temperatures that now cover much of the Atlantic Ocean will continue into peak hurricane season from August to October. That warm water fuels hurricanes. By early June, the tropical Atlantic was already as hot as it usually is in mid-August — peak hurricane season.

Hurricane season officially ends Nov. 30.


(Sun Sentinel staff writer Robin Webb contributed to this report.)

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