Tropical Storm Alberto forms off the South Carolina coast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:41 PM GMT on May 19, 2012

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The first named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season is here. Tropical Storm Alberto formed this afternoon off the coast of South Carolina--a little going-away present for outgoing NHC director Bill Read, who retires on June 1! Alberto has the potential to hit North Carolina as early as Monday, but since the storm is so small, it would only affect a small area of the coast with high winds and heavy rain. Upper level winds out of the southwest are creating a moderate 15 - 20 knots of wind shear over Alberto, and the storm is over the warm waters of Gulf Stream, which are 81°F (27°C), just above the 26°C threshold usually needed to sustain a tropical storm. The system is tangled up with an upper level trough of low pressure, which is pumping cold, dry air into the storm, slowing development. The dry air impinging on Alberto from the southwest can be seen in water vapor satellite loops. Heavy rain showers from Alberto are located about 50 miles offshore of the coast of South Carolina, as seen on Wilmington radar. At times today, 93L has had a cloud-free center resembling an eye on radar, but this was not a true eye.


Figure 1. True color satellite photo of Alberto taken at 1:50 pm EDT Saturday May 19, 2012. Image credit: NASA.

Forecast for Alberto
Rain showers from Alberto are likely to move onshore between Charleston and Wilmington Saturday night and Sunday, bringing 1 - 3 inches of rain to portions of the coast. The storm is too small to cause major flooding problems, particularly since the coast is under moderate to severe drought. Alberto's rains will not be plentiful enough to cause significant drought relief, except perhaps over a small region near the coast, where (and if) the storm makes landfall. Wind shear is expected to remain in the moderate range, 15 - 20 knots, through Monday, which is low enough to allow some slow development. Since the storm is very small, it is highly vulnerable to even a modest increase in wind shear or dry air, which could rapidly disrupt it. Steering currents are weak, and Alberto will wander off the coast of South Carolina through Sunday, before getting caught up by a trough of low pressure on Monday which should lift it out to the northeast. The moderate wind shear and dry air are likely to keep Alberto below hurricane strength. NHC is giving Alberto a 5 - 10% chance of reaching hurricane strength before dissipating on Thursday as it scoots northeast out to sea.


Figure 2. Late afternoon radar image of Alberto from the Wilmington radar.

Alberto in historical context
Alberto is earliest-forming tropical storm in the Atlantic Basin since Ana in 2003, which formed on April 21. Alberto is one of only three Atlantic tropical storms to form in May in the past 31 years. The others were Tropical Storm Arthur of 2008, and Tropical Storm Arlene of 1981. There was also a subtropical storm, Andrea, that formed in May of 2007. Formation of an early season tropical storm from an old frontal boundary, like occurred with Alberto, is not a harbinger of an active hurricane season--it's more of a random occurrence. Early season storms that form in the Caribbean, though, often signal that a busy hurricane season may occur.

I'll have an update Sunday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
These little storms are really unpredictable. I wouldn't blame anybody that completely blew a forecast for the storms.


Agreed. The models are not gonna have an easy time with this one. And although I don't see rapid deepening with Alberto, change to the steering layer could mean changes to eventual path.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
...SHIP INDICATES ALBERTO IS STRONGER...
6:50 PM EDT Sat May 19
Location: 32.2°N 77.9°W
Max sustained: 60 mph
Moving: SW at 3 mph
Min pressure: 995 mb


Hurricane watches could be issued instead
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Well, I was just fishing 40 mules off coast of Wilmington last week... weird that it's 1-2 foot sea and now it's 10-12 foot sea. I'm getting alot of clouds from Alberto here in central NC.

For those arguing about inland/offshore warnings, my family is offshore fishing family so I know the watches or warnings. Warnings is in effect for 200 miles or greater from coast now while watch is in effect for 12-200 miles or greater from coast in South Carolina.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
...SHIP INDICATES ALBERTO IS STRONGER...
6:50 PM EDT Sat May 19
Location: 32.2°N 77.9°W
Max sustained: 60 mph
Moving: SW at 3 mph
Min pressure: 995 mb

Well that was unexpected.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5725
These little storms are really unpredictable. I wouldn't blame anybody that completely blew a forecast for the storm.
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Alberto is haveing fun
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Quoting nigel20:
Hey MA. What's your forecast for Alberto?

Well I said 55mph peak earlier so I'm already wrong (although I slightly question the validity of the ship's report), but I think we'll probably see little change in intensity as it drifts around out there... I don't think it will make landfall but it can't be ruled out... Either way it's not a major threat, at least right now
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Already? Well Levi, so much for the 50-60 mph peak, lol.


It's not stronger than 60mph yet. However, if it is already that strong then yes it could get stronger.
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A nice DMAX could yield to an even stronger storm as the circulation starts to re-organize on radar.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
...SHIP INDICATES ALBERTO IS STRONGER...
6:50 PM EDT Sat May 19
Location: 32.2°N 77.9°W
Max sustained: 60 mph
Moving: SW at 3 mph
Min pressure: 995 mb


OMG, this storm could become a hurricane
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Impressive, up to 60 and down to 995 mb.

That makes Alberto in terms of pressure the strongest May storm since Hurricane Alma in 1970.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24508
Quoting CybrTeddy:
...SHIP INDICATES ALBERTO IS STRONGER...
6:50 PM EDT Sat May 19
Location: 32.2°N 77.9°W
Max sustained: 60 mph
Moving: SW at 3 mph
Min pressure: 995 mb

Already? Well Levi, so much for the 50-60 mph peak, lol.
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Huh...

I wonder who brought that up.


000
WTNT61 KNHC 192250
TCUAT1

TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL012012
650 PM EDT SAT MAY 19 2012

...SHIP INDICATES ALBERTO IS STRONGER...

REPORTS FROM A SHIP NEAR THE CENTER OF ALBERTO INDICATE THAT THE
CYCLONE IS STRONGER THAN PREVIOUSLY ESTIMATED. BASED PRIMARILY ON
THE PRESSURE DATA...MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NOW ESTIMATED TO BE
60 MPH...95 KM/H. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS EXPECTED OVER THE
NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS AND NO CHANGES TO THE OFFICIAL FORECAST ARE
REQUIRED AT THIS TIME.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
By the way, there are multiple confirmed tornadoes on the ground in the midwest right now
Hey MA. What's your forecast for Alberto?
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
...SHIP INDICATES ALBERTO IS STRONGER...
6:50 PM EDT Sat May 19
Location: 32.2°N 77.9°W
Max sustained: 60 mph
Moving: SW at 3 mph
Min pressure: 995 mb

Interesting... It looks worse than earlier but maybe they underestimated the intitial intensity
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Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery loop

..click Image for Loop

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Inland SC is under no watch.
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...WINDS...
TROPICAL CYCLONE WATCHES OR WARNINGS ARE CURRENTLY NOT IN
EFFECT. THE CURRENT FORECAST IS FOR MAXIMUM WINDS TO REMAIN BELOW
TROPICAL STORM FORCE.

PLEASE KEEP ABREAST OF THE LATEST FORECAST INFORMATION AS ANY
CHANGE IN THE FORECAST TRACK CLOSER TO THE COAST OR INCREASE IN
SIZE OR INTENSITY COULD RESULT IN TROPICAL STORM WATCHES OR
WARNINGS BEING ISSUED FOR CHARLESTON COUNTY.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Wonder how Alberto will do early tomorrow morning for D-MAX.


lets see where he stands at midnight first
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...SHIP INDICATES ALBERTO IS STRONGER...
6:50 PM EDT Sat May 19
Location: 32.2°N 77.9°W
Max sustained: 60 mph
Moving: SW at 3 mph
Min pressure: 995 mb
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24508
Looks like this is planning to hang around a few days
Watch for undertows folks always push their luck happens every time!







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Quoting ncstorm:


Edit:
You could be right but it looks like its for land as well...


Yeah I'm starting to second guess myself... There are tropical storm warnings up way offshore and then a watch closer in which may or may not include the immediate coast
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22:15 RGB




Viz Zoomed
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By the way, there are multiple confirmed tornadoes on the ground in the midwest right now
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

There are :)

Its just on the coast though... The watches never extend inland so its kind of hard to see... But they are up


I give up, someone please help me here lol
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


.WATCHES/WARNINGS...
FOR MARINE INTERESTS...A TROPICAL STORM WATCH CONTINUES FOR
PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST SOUTH CAROLINA COASTAL WATERS.

There are no watches on land at this time

There are :)

Its just on the coast though... The watches never extend inland so its kind of hard to see... But they are up
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Quoting ncstorm:


Wrong..


ALTHOUGH TROPICAL CYCLONE WATCHES ARE NOT IN EFFECT FOR THE
FOLLOWING LOCATIONS...CHARLESTON...POSSIBLE IMPACTS FROM RELATED
HAZARDS ARE A POSSIBILITY.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


Thats the coastal waters

If it were for the actual coast line, then the counties would be in light pink

right now the watch is for marine interests only


Edit:
You could be right but it looks like its for land as well...
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
There is a tropical storm watch for the coast, not just the waters


.WATCHES/WARNINGS...
FOR MARINE INTERESTS...A TROPICAL STORM WATCH CONTINUES FOR
PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST SOUTH CAROLINA COASTAL WATERS.

There are no watches on land at this time
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Hurricane Local Statement
Issued by NWS Charleston, SC

Current Version | Previous Version | Text Only | Print | Product List | Glossary Off
Versions: 1 2 3 4

000
WTUS82 KCHS 192220
HLSCHS

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO LOCAL STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON SC
620 PM EDT SAT MAY 19 2012

...TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO FORMS...

.AREAS AFFECTED...
THIS LOCAL STATEMENT PROVIDES IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND
RECOMMENDED ACTIONS FOR PEOPLE AND MARINE INTERESTS IN SELECT
LOCATIONS AND COASTAL WATER LEGS OF SOUTHEAST SOUTH CAROLINA.

.WATCHES/WARNINGS...
FOR MARINE INTERESTS...A TROPICAL STORM WATCH CONTINUES FOR
PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST SOUTH CAROLINA COASTAL WATERS.

ALTHOUGH TROPICAL CYCLONE WATCHES ARE NOT IN EFFECT FOR THE
FOLLOWING LOCATIONS...CHARLESTON...POSSIBLE IMPACTS FROM RELATED
HAZARDS ARE A POSSIBILITY.

PLEASE CHECK THE LATEST PUBLIC AND MARINE FORECASTS FOR DETAILED
INFORMATION ABOUT ADDITIONAL HAZARDS.

.STORM INFORMATION...
AT 5 PM EDT...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO WAS LOCATED
NEAR LATITUDE 32.2N...LONGITUDE 77.7W. THIS WAS ABOUT 130 MILES
EAST-SOUTHEAST OF CHARLESTON SC. STORM MOTION WAS SW OR
220 DEGREES AT 3 MPH. STORM INTENSITY WAS 45 MPH.

.SITUATION OVERVIEW...
IT IS VITAL THAT YOU DO NOT FOCUS ON THE EXACT FORECAST TRACK. TO
DO SO COULD RESULT IN BAD DECISIONS AND PLACE YOU OR THOSE YOU
ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR AT GREATER RISK. TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO IS
EXPECTED TO RESULT IN INCREASING WINDS AND SEAS INTO MONDAY.

.PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...
PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

REGARDING THE COASTAL WATERS UNDER A WATCH...SMALL CRAFT SHOULD
RETURN TO PORT OR SEEK SAFE HARBOR.

CLOSELY MONITOR NOAA WEATHER RADIO OR OTHER LOCAL NEWS OUTLETS FOR
OFFICIAL STORM INFORMATION. LISTEN FOR POSSIBLE CHANGES TO THE
FORECAST,

&&

.NEXT UPDATE...
THE NEXT LOCAL STATEMENT WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER
SERVICE IN CHARLESTON AROUND 9 PM...OR SOONER IF CONDITIONS
WARRANT.

$$

AMZ350-200430-
/O.CON.KCHS.TR.A.1001.000000T0000Z-000000T0000Z/
WATERS FROM SOUTH SANTEE RIVER TO EDISTO BEACH SC OUT 20 NM-
620 PM EDT SAT MAY 19 2012

...TROPICAL STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT...

...PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...
PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

BOAT OWNERS AND CAPTAINS OF SMALL CRAFT NEED TO DETERMINE THE
BEST STRATEGY FOR SECURING THEIR CRAFT.

&&

...WINDS AND SEAS...
AS TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO MOVES CLOSER...THE THREAT FOR SUSTAINED
HIGH WINDS IS LIKELY TO INCREASE. THE LATEST FORECAST IS FOR
WINDS TO REACH TROPICAL STORM FORCE SUNDAY NIGHT AND INTO MONDAY.

$$

SCZ050-200430-
/O.CON.KCHS.HU.S.1001.000000T0000Z-000000T0000Z/
CHARLESTON-
620 PM EDT SAT MAY 19 2012

...TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO EXPECTED TO REMAIN OFFSHORE...

...PROBABILITY OF TROPICAL STORM/HURRICANE CONDITIONS...
AS CURRENTLY ASSESSED...THE ONSET OF EITHER TROPICAL STORM OR
HURRICANE CONDITIONS IS UNLIKELY TO OCCUR.

...WINDS...
TROPICAL CYCLONE WATCHES OR WARNINGS ARE CURRENTLY NOT IN
EFFECT. THE CURRENT FORECAST IS FOR MAXIMUM WINDS TO REMAIN BELOW
TROPICAL STORM FORCE.

PLEASE KEEP ABREAST OF THE LATEST FORECAST INFORMATION AS ANY
CHANGE IN THE FORECAST TRACK CLOSER TO THE COAST OR INCREASE IN
SIZE OR INTENSITY COULD RESULT IN TROPICAL STORM WATCHES OR
WARNINGS BEING ISSUED FOR CHARLESTON COUNTY.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


Thats the coastal waters

If it were for the actual coast line, then the counties would be in light pink

right now the watch is for marine interests only


Correct. I don't forsee a watch being posted for Charleston. If this were a larger storm then I could see that.

It's still early and any prolonged westward track could change that, but this should be a non-event for us in Charleston.
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Quoting Patrap:
I'LL HAVE ANOTHER WINS THE SECOND JEWEL OF THE TRIPLE CROWN by winning the Preakness by a noseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

O_0
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2548
There is a tropical storm watch for the coast, not just the waters
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Quoting ncstorm:




Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for parts of SC Coast line..light pink area


Thats the coastal waters

If it were for the actual coast line, then the counties would be in light pink

right now the watch is for marine interests only
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Quoting ncstorm:




Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for parts of SC Coast line..light pink area


The tropical storm watch is only in effect for the coastal waters. We are NOT under a watch here in Charleston.
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90. LBAR
More fun next week? Could this upper low spawn a surface low?

LONG TERM /TUESDAY NIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY/...
GLOBAL MODELS NOW ARE TRENDING TOWARD CLOSING OFF ANOTHER LOW OVER
THE MID ATLANTIC STATES THROUGH AT LEAST FRIDAY. THIS NEW CLOSED LOW
SEEMS TO STEM FROM THE VERY UPPER TROUGH THE PUSHED THE PREVIOUS
CLOSED LOW OUT OF THE AREA. THIS OVERALL SCENARIO WILL KEEP THE
REGION ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE UPPER LOW AND GENERALLY DEEP LAYER
WSW FLOW. THUS...KEPT SLIGHT CHANCE FOR MAINLY AFTERNOON CONVECTION
THROUGH THE PERIOD. THE FLOW SHOULD BE LIGHT ENOUGH EACH AFTERNOON
TO ALLOW FOR A SEABREEZE...WHICH WILL PLAY A ROLE IN HELPING TO
TRIGGER ISOLATED CONVECTION. TEMPS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE ABOVE
NORMAL. BY SATURDAY...THE GFS TRIES TO REPLACE THE UPPER LOW WITH A
STRONG UPPER RIDGE CENTERED OVER THE CENTRAL MS VALLEY...BUT THE
ECMWF SAGS THE UPPER LOW OVER SC
. THEREFORE...THERE CONTINUES TO BE
CONSIDERABLE UNCERTAINTY IN THE MEDIUM RANGE AND EXTENDED FORECAST.
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Charleston,S.C. Wu page

Hurricane Statement


Statement as of 6:20 PM EDT on May 19, 2012

... Tropical Storm Alberto expected to remain offshore...

... Probability of tropical storm/hurricane conditions...
as currently assessed... the onset of either tropical storm or
hurricane conditions is unlikely to occur.

... Winds...
tropical cyclone watches or warnings are currently not in
effect. The current forecast is for maximum winds to remain below
tropical storm force.

Please keep abreast of the latest forecast information as any
change in the forecast track closer to the coast or increase in
size or intensity could result in tropical storm watches or
warnings being issued for Charleston County.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

There are TS Watches along the SC coastline I believe.




Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for parts of SC Coast line..light pink area
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

There are TS Watches along the SC coastline.

That means we should get intermediate advisories right?
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


only for mariners, dont think there are any coastal watches yet

There are TS Watches along the SC coastline I believe.
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URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO LOCAL STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON SC
620 PM EDT SAT MAY 19 2012

...TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO FORMS...

.AREAS AFFECTED...
THIS LOCAL STATEMENT PROVIDES IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND
RECOMMENDED ACTIONS FOR PEOPLE AND MARINE INTERESTS IN SELECT
LOCATIONS AND COASTAL WATER LEGS OF SOUTHEAST SOUTH CAROLINA.

.WATCHES/WARNINGS...
FOR MARINE INTERESTS...A TROPICAL STORM WATCH CONTINUES FOR
PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST SOUTH CAROLINA COASTAL WATERS.

...

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/WTUS82-KCHS.shtml
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The Surface Low has elongated Ne to Sw as the System tries to reform a new center seems. Lotsa Forces yawing it around this afternoon.

22:02 Image

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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Horse won the Triple Crown

Wow. Horse racing? That is a bit off topic lol.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Horse won the Triple Crown



no they didnt, just the 1st 2 races - last leg is in 3 weeks
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
I am sorry but ummm WTF?


Horse won the Triple Crown

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Quoting tropicfreak:


Hey ncstorm... long time no see. What are locals down your way thinking as far as Alberto is concerned?


I honestly dont think people know yet unless they visted the online websites..I dont think there have been local news because of events on NBC and ABC..
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79. JeffMasters (Admin)
Quoting HurrikanEB:
"Alberto is the first Atlantic tropical storm to form in May since Tropical Storm Arlene in 1981."



Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Arthur in 2008 form on May 30th and make land fall on May 31? Alberto is definitely the earliest May storm since Arlene, but I think Arthur has him beat as far as "first" goes.


Yep, I meant to say earliest in May...fixed the wording, thanks,

Jeff Masters

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.