It’s not yet a full-fledged tropical storm, but forecasters have nonetheless given the storm headed toward the Gulf Coast a name: Subtropical Storm Alberto.
“Pre-season subtropical storm Alberto forms over the northwestern Caribbean Sea,” forecasters from the National Hurricane Center wrote in their first official advisory on the storm, which is currently located about 55 miles south of Cozumel in Mexico. “Heavy rainfall expected to affect the Yucatan Peninsula, western Cuba, Florida, and the northeastern Gulf Coast throughout the weekend.”
The Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t officially begin until June 1.
The slow-moving storm is projected to move north through the weekend, before taking a northwesterly turn on Monday toward the central Gulf Coast. The current NHC forecast projects a landfall near the Mississippi-Alabama state line overnight between Monday and Tuesday.
Despite the storm’s relatively low intensity, officials have urged locals to undertake preparations. The National Weather Service has warned there is an extreme threat of flooding in the Mobile-Pensacola area, with as much as 12 inches of rain possible in some areas.
The Gulf Islands National Seashore said Thursday that staff had begun preparations for a potential closure of the park, which could take place as soon as Saturday.