Chances for first tropical system of year up to 80 percent

Tropical Storm

Florida Gov. Scott said the Florida National Guard has 5,500 guard members available for deployment if needed.

As of 7:15 a.m., the National Weather Service in Miami said Alberto, the first-named storm of the 2018 season - which technically begins Friday, but who's counting? - had its center now located about 100 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico, in the northwestern Caribbean Sea. According to NWS forecasts, scattered showers and thunderstorms are likely until Wednesday and are expected to clear out by Wednesday night. A storm kicking up in the Caribbean Sea is threatening to bring heavy rainfall and flash floods to parts of Mexico, Cuba, Florida and the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend and possibly beyond.

The NHC predicted 10 inches to 15 inches of rain with isolated totals of 25 inches in the Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba.

Alberto is forecast to move northward over the weekend, passing the western tip of Cuba on Saturday morning, then turning toward the northwest. The GFS, however, essentially keeps this an open wave and takes the slug of moisture across central and south Florida.

All counties in southwest and west-central Florida, including Polk County, remain under a Flood Watch from the National Weather Service.

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There's also a strong threat of rip currents from Florida to Louisiana.

"The track of Gulf storm will mainly be south-to-north and build the seas ahead and to the right of the center of circulation". This means water levels may increase two to four feet in response to the onshore winds Alberto is expected to produce, peaking on Sunday.

A storm surge watch and a tropical storm watch are in effect for Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, the National Weather Service in New Orleans advises. The hurricane center said gradual strengthening will be possible until landfall.

Alberto will move into the Gulf of Mexico later today. Once again, very heavy rainfall is likely with these tropical downpours, and brief tornadoes will be possible. Officials tweeted that there are expected wind gusts of 30 miles per hour and those are expected to increase Saturday night and persist through Sunday.

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