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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429. Skyepony (Mod)
OSCAT from this afternoon. Notice how well to the surface the Low NE of Alberto was.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NWS In Wilmington, NC..good nite folks

.NEAR TERM /UNTIL 6 AM SUNDAY MORNING/...
AS OF 830 PM SATURDAY...THE BIRTH OF TROPICAL STORM ALBERTA WILL NOW
BECOME THE WX STORY FOR THE NEAR TERM AND SHORT TERM. MAIN WESTWARD
MOVING MOISTURE PLUME HAS DROPPED JUST SOUTH OF THE ILM CWA. WITH
ALBERTO MEANDERING A BIT FURTHER SOUTH OVERNIGHT...WILL LOWER POPS
ACROSS THE FA...ESPECIALLY FROM NORTH TO SOUTH. THE NOCTURNAL ATL
ENGINE IS BEGINNING TO SHOW SIGNS OF INCREASE PCPN AS WELL AS
INTENSITY VIA LATEST SURROUNDING 88DOS. HOWEVER...WITH SSTS IN THE
LOW TO MID 70S AND THE GULF STREAM LIKELY BELOW 80...DO NOT
ANTICIPATE ANY FURTHER INCREASE IN STRENGTH FROM ALBERTO. NEED THOSE
SSTS AT OR OVER 80 DEGREES OVER A GOOD CHUNK OF OCEAN OFF THE
CAROLINAS FOR ANY FURTHER STRENGTH INCREASES. THERE HAS NOT REALLY
BEEN ANY TRENDS OR ALLIANCES AMONGST THE EVERYDAY MODELS WE USE FOR
PROGNOSTICATIONS FOR ALBERTO. AND FOR THAT REASON...THE OFFICIAL
ALBERTO FORECAST ILLUSTRATES A MEANDERING ALBERTO RATHER THAN A
BONAFIDE HEADING WITH A DIRECTION AND SPEED. LATEST SAT IMAGERY
INDICATES A PARTLY TO VARIABLY CLOUDY SKY OUTSIDE THE MAIN ONSHORE
BELT OF PCPN. MIN TEMP VARIOUS MODEL MOS GUIDANCE LOOKS TOO LOW FOR
THE ILM CWA GIVEN THE ONSHORE WIND REGIME THAT ADVECTS 60
DEWPOINTS.

&&

.SHORT TERM /6 AM SUNDAY MORNING THROUGH MONDAY NIGHT/...
AS OF 3:00 PM SATURDAY...FORECAST CHALLENGE FOR THE SHORT TERM
INVOLVES ULTIMATE FATE OF A LOW PRESSURE CENTER NOW LOCATED ABOUT
120 MILES SE OF MYRTLE BEACH...WHICH ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL
HURRICANE CENTER HAS BEGUN TO ACQUIRE TROPICAL CHARACTERISTICS.
THE HURRICANE CENTER HAS THE LOW DRIFTING WEST OR SOUTH OVER THE
NEXT DAY OR SO AND GIVE IT A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF BECOMING A
TROPICAL CYCLONE WITHIN THE NEXT 48 HOURS. TO FURTHER COMPLICATE
MATTERS...GUIDANCE IMPLIES WE COULD SEE MULTIPLE LOWS DEVELOP
DURING THIS PERIOD...ALL ROTATING AROUND A BROAD UPPER CUT-OFF
LOW.


Somebody keep the coffee pot brewing until tomorrow for the forecasters..they got a challenging next couple of days
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 13457
Radar and satellite are telling two completely different stories. It is pretty apparent the mid-level center and low-level center are decoupled now.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 11 Comments: 2448
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


It wasn't gonna be that easy...


They're only predicting 11 storms I think.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
...gonna scream if we have another year of these...


It wasn't gonna be that easy...
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Possible tornado touchdown in St. Petersburg. Minimal damage but someone's SUV got hit with some degree unfortunately. Doesn't appear anybody was injured.
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...gonna scream if we have another year of these...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30257


iam expecting an 8 over the next 24

lets hope the great heater don't fall
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52262
Signing off for the night.
Have fun!
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Geez...

This one looks pretty sheared and blasted to death.

Very obvious LLC escaping out from the cloud deck.

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Quoting redwagon:

Oh, no, I'm not a 2012er at all. I just noticed tandem swirls with both Aletta and Alberto cyclogen, and I wonder is the upper atmosphere trying twice as hard to get some A/C down to the surface?


I added a line to my post.
Not unusual in system struggling to stay organized.
This one is holding on, but conditions not optimal.
Shear is building to the southeast.

Not looking great at the moment, and probably why the NHC is not really aggressive on development.
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Maybe Alberto already peak or it will tomorrow.
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Upstate SC getting some bands and light wind.

It'll be interesting to see where the models take this one in terms of intensity. Also, I wonder how far this will go down in wind speed after DMIN.
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CMC Ensembles


NCEP Ensembles
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 13457
Quoting cchsweatherman:


Nothing has been posted on the National Hurricane Center website with a flight plan for tomorrow, so not sure where that information is coming from.

Facebook.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30257
Quoting all4hurricanes:
the NHS says Alberto is at 60 mph but WU still says 45mph is there a glitch or is WU just slow

It was an unOfficial advisory, the NHC posted.
Notice how the overlay stats for Alberto says Advisory # and has no number. WU isnt updating cause of that.
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Quoting beell:
yes, i have been known to lie.
guilty...
you are quilty of nothing but being yourself
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52262
the NHS says Alberto is at 60 mph but WU still says 45mph is there a glitch or is WU just slow
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
First recon flight of 2013 will take place tomorrow.


Nothing has been posted on the National Hurricane Center website with a flight plan for tomorrow, so not sure where that information is coming from.
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First recon flight of 2012 will take place tomorrow.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30257
Right now, the biggest issue and inhibiting factor for Tropical Storm Alberto appears to be the northward migration of the subtropical jet stream and the continuing development of low pressure over the Bahamas. This has cut off the inflow and moisture supply into the storm from the south and east. In addition, as this low pressure system continues developing and the subtropical jet strengthens and retrogrades to the north will impart some increase in wind shear over Alberto. The combination of both will likely cause Alberto to struggle as it appears to be doing at this time. I would not be surprised at all that, if trends continue, the storm weakens and gets absorbed into the developing low pressure to the south within a couple days or less.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I blame a combination of DMIN, dry air, and wind shear. It should look better in the morning as more convection fires.


It's possible it continues to weaken.. Small systems like to strengthen fast, then decay fast. Maybe Alberto peaked this evening at 60 mph. We'll see what happens. I personally would like to see this go at it one more time. Hopefully DMAX will help Alberto out some.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7334
Quoting RobDaHood:

Maybe just messing with you, maybe just kidding around.
It's weather...weird stuff happens.
Doesn't necessarily mean anything.
But..it's 2012 after all and everyone seems to be trying to attach some significance to every odd occurrence.

Oh, no, I'm not a 2012er at all. I just noticed tandem swirls with both Aletta and Alberto cyclogen, and I wonder is the upper atmosphere trying twice as hard to get some A/C down to the surface?
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from Presslord before Sunset



Alberto from the saing vessel NICOLE along the Intracoastal Waterway between Georgetown and McClellanville SC
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
Quoting Levi32:
Alberto is definitely weaker now than it was this morning and early this afternoon. Convection is weaker, less widespread, and the low-level center is now exposed.


I blame a combination of DMIN, dry air, and wind shear. It should look better in the morning as more convection fires.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30257
Quoting stormpetrol:

Is the low still there?

yes and no yes it is still there via obs now there is not at this moment on the 00Z surface charts but there should be one by sunrise when D-Max kick in plus the upper level anticyclone should be near it or on top
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
Quoting redwagon:

Just kinda statistically odd. You can half-way expect a duo during EWRC, but at cyclogenesis? Or maybe it happens all the time.

Maybe just messing with you, maybe just kidding around.
It's weather...weird stuff happens.
Doesn't necessarily mean anything.
But..it's 2012 after all and everyone seems to be trying to attach some significance to every odd occurrence.


It does happen often with storms that are struggling to stay organized.
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Alberto is definitely weaker now than it was this morning and early this afternoon. Convection is weaker, less widespread, and the low-level center is now exposed.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

At least someone understands, lol.


You and I are a minority it would seem haha.
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Quoting MrstormX:


The people who edit at WPTC are a very good group of guys who work tirelessly to maintain thousands of articles on tropical cyclones across multiple basins. I can assure you when something is out of place, it is due to a vandal or prankster and nothing else.

At least someone understands, lol.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30257
Fresh update on Alberto (including a track/intensity/impact forecast) and the Atlantic tropics on my blog! Let me know what you think....as I plan to write these discussion daily during the hurricane season. I will take any of your inputs to make these discussions better....

This is my third update on this system in the last 24 hours...boy I am whooped....I hope there are no more surprises....
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Quoting RobDaHood:

Everything or nothing.
Depending on how easily freaked out you are.
:o)

Just kinda statistically odd. You can half-way expect a duo during EWRC, but at cyclogenesis? Or maybe it happens all the time.
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Fukushima Update:

AGAIN: Three strong quakes in 15 minutes hit near same area as on 3/11 — M5.8, M5.0, M4.8 (MAPS)

CTV: No. 3 fuel pool “poses a greater risk of failing” than No. 4 — “Has not been strengthened since the disaster”

Gundersen: Japan is sitting on a ticking time bomb — “We’re all in a situation of having to pray there’s not an earthquake”

Link
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Quoting beell:
haven't you heard, wiki does forecasts now. if Alberto becomes a hurricane you will read it there, first.

if we get 22 tornado reports they will be added to the yearly count quicker than you can click your red shoes together. even if it was 22 people who saw the same twister.


The people who edit at WPTC are a very good group of guys who work tirelessly to maintain thousands of articles on tropical cyclones across multiple basins. I can assure you when something is out of place, it is due to a vandal or prankster and nothing else.
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
391. beell
yes, i have been known to lie.
guilty...
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Quoting beell:
haven't you heard, wiki does forecasts now. if Alberto becomes a hurricane you will read it there, first.

if we get 22 tornado reports they will be added to the yearly count quicker than you can click your red shoes together. even if it was 22 people who saw the same twister.

As an editor of both WikiProject Tropical Cyclone and WikiProject Severe Weather, I can say that is a lie.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30257


lol looks as though alberto's great at Minesweeper
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
'night peeps

time for me to come back to ... here.

hope my cheesehead avatar's still there
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
why does wiki have alberto at 65mph and 993mb?

As of 6:50 p.m. EDT (2250 UTC) May 19, Tropical Storm Alberto is located within 30 nautical miles of 32.2�N 77.9�W, about 140 mi (225 km) east-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina and about 120 mi (195 km) south of Cape Fear, North Carolina. Maximum sustained winds are 50 knots (65 mph, 105 km/h), with stronger gusts. Minimum central pressure is 993 mbar (hPa; 29.34 InHg), and the system is moving southwest at 3 kt (3 mph, 6 km/h)



but the 650 edt update says 60 mph and 995mb.

Do they know something we dont, or is that an error?


Fixed
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384. beell
haven't you heard, wiki does forecasts now. if Alberto becomes a hurricane you will read it there, first.

if we get 22 tornado reports they will be added to the yearly count quicker than you can click your red shoes together. even if it was 22 people who saw the same twister.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
Quoting redwagon:


First two named systems have had dual vortices. What does that mean?

Everything or nothing.
Depending on how easily freaked out you are.
:o)
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

I think it will the upper level anticyclone is nearly centered over honduras via this map and it has been moving N all evening this is also causing shear to drop in the gulf of honduras if you think about it it has all it needs: an area of low pressure warm SST vort that it has now and now its developing lesser shear just imagine when that shear is down to 5-10kts and the convection builds you never know maybe Beryl becomes a hurricane

Is the low still there?
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T.C.F.A.
01L/TS/A/CX
MARK
32.51N78.55W
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52262
Quoting WxGeekVA:


Most recent WINDSAT 37GHz H


First two named systems have had dual vortices. What does that mean?
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About JeffMasters

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