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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Does anyone think Alberto has a possibility of reaching hurricane strength before it's all said and done?
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Yeah, I agree with the two if you. I was just going to post that I have the center at the dark green pixel in this image.

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Most recent WINDSAT 37GHz H
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3471
TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO LOCAL STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON SC
846 PM EDT SAT MAY 19 2012

...TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO STRENGTHENS OVER THE ATLANTIC...

.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 AND
SOUTHEAST GEORGIA.

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

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

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

.STORM INFORMATION...
AT 7 PM EDT...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO WAS LOCATED
NEAR LATITUDE 32.2N...LONGITUDE 77.9W. THIS WAS ABOUT 120 MILES



http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/WTUS82-KCHS.shtml


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We are using the 2006 hurricane season names. I will always correlate those names with inactivity and fish storms. I wonder how they will compare this year?
Member Since: May 12, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 2608
324. Gorty
Oh and global warming? Ha! good one!! Even though we are this late in May I STILL have to turn off my window fan before I go to bed so my room wont become an ice box in the morning!

-off topic sorry-
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
I think it's apparent now on radar what is going on. Alberto looks much better that what satellite would suggest. The COC is under convection and nice banding is present on the N/W sides. COC is in the red circle.



That's actually where I have it marked up right now.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Velocity data from KCLX confirms that the old LLC has remained dominant and should survive the night.


Yeah, I agree, I didn't see any center reformation. A lot of wobbling around, a lot of dry air too.
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321. Gorty
Quoting WxGeekVA:
I think it's apparent now on radar what is going on. Alberto looks much better that what satellite would suggest. The COC is under convection and nice banding is present on the N/W sides. COC is in the red circle.



Still has a ways to go imo. Gotta see what DMAX will do to it. Then see what DMIN does to it later in the day.
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Hot day here in northern Ohio, with temperatures climbing into the middle and upper 80s. Looks like another day with temperatures in the middle and upper 80s tomorrow. This just a couple days removed from a heavy frost and low temperatures near freezing. Actually, it was rather chilly even this morning with low temperatures in the 40s. Tonight, however, looks a little milder with temperatures bottoming out around 50.

More heat developing late next week with temperatures as high as 90 to 95 degrees possible over the Memorial Day weekend. Despite a few frosty mornings, temperatures are running about 5 degrees warmer than normal for the month to date.
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Hello again!! I introduced myself on here several days ago, but if you missed that, I have been lurking on this blog since the 2008 hurricane season and have just now joined WU and am also making blogs. Be sure to check out my blogs!!
Member Since: May 12, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 2608
heres some plots to ponder over

Link
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I think it's apparent now on radar what is going on. Alberto looks much better that what satellite would suggest. The COC is under convection and nice banding is present on the N/W sides. COC is in the red circle.

Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3471
92E is down one millibar per 00z Best Track.

EP, 92, 2012052000, , BEST, 0, 110N, 980W, 25, 1005, DB


Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14253
Velocity data from KCLX confirms that the old LLC has remained dominant and should survive the night.
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Quoting Gorty:


What is that big hole doing there?


Dry Air Pocket

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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Just as a sidenote since the blog is calming, there have been 22 tornado reports so far today, but i think an 85% take would still be overcount on a day like this.
Thanks for the update
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I've been watching the radars all day, haven't seen much to speak of. Apparently there were a few brief/small touchdowns in NE/KS but NWS seemed to think it would all be 'gustnadoes' today.

Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Just as a sidenote since the blog is calming, there have been 22 tornado reports so far today, but i think an 85% take would still be overcount on a day like this.
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311. Gorty
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Think its referred to as an eye or an eye-like feature lol.


Yeah I know but I dont think dadefish thinks the big hole is the center. And when a true eye forms, that marks the center of the storm.
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Quoting Gorty:


Is that big hole the center?


Just left of the southern most red dot.

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Think its referred to as an eye or an eye-like feature lol.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32033
Just as a sidenote since the blog is calming, there have been 22 tornado reports so far today, but i think an 85% take would still be overcount on a day like this.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9727
307. Gorty
Quoting SouthDadeFish:
I think the center is on the extreme southern edge of the new burst of convection.


What is that big hole doing there?
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306. Gorty
Quoting KoritheMan:


Neutrals tend to support more US landfalls. But given the likelihood of the eastern Atlantic being quiet due to the oncoming El Nino, homegrown storms like Alberto should be expected regardless of exact ENSO status.


Wonder what that means for New England.
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Quoting Gorty:


Is that big hole the center?
I think the center is on the extreme southern edge of the new burst of convection.
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304. Gorty
Quoting SouthDadeFish:
Looks like a new burst of convection is trying to fire over the center:



Is that big hole the center?
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Alberto's first DMIN and DMAX are going to make it look extremely different. It has to get used to the pattern, ya know? Lol.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32033
Quoting Gorty:
If this summer is going to be neutral, what does that mean for the hurricane season?


Neutrals tend to support more US landfalls. But given the likelihood of the eastern Atlantic being quiet due to the oncoming El Nino, homegrown storms like Alberto should be expected regardless of exact ENSO status.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 575 Comments: 20572
Quoting j2008:

Looks like the center is on the SE corner of the rain blob, you can see a small semi circle there. Sure looks like thats the main circulation, if it is Alberto might be a little
healthier than we have been thinking.


I see 2 possible places.
Right in the arc where in the SW of the rain where the heavy rain is wrapping around.

A small area in the SW of the rain mass where you can just see the rain wrap around before the end of the loop.

They are both very close but i go for the 1st choice.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9727
What was the ship that reported the winds?
Member Since: July 19, 2011 Posts: 12 Comments: 2401
299. xcool
Let the Games begin," Need to Prepare for 2012 ATL hurricane VERY BUSY YEAR
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Quoting Gorty:
If this summer is going to be neutral, what does that mean for the hurricane season?


If it indeed stays neutral long enough to not have an effect on the peak of the season most likely there will be adjustments in future predictions. I know most, if not all, were hedging there forecasts partly on the development of an El Nino. Personally I think we'll see 12-14 however, I think they are low on the Hurricane & Major numbers. Instability and moisture have returned to the basin in areas where it has been scarce for a long time. I just think that there will be more available sweet spots closer to home this year compared to years past. Just my opinion.
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Significant Wave Height and Peak Direction forecast

Link

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Looks like a new burst of convection is trying to fire over the center:

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Nothing new, but the ATCF update anyway:

AL, 01, 2012052000, , BEST, 0, 322N, 780W, 50, 995, TS, 50, NEQ, 0, 0, 0, 20, 1013, 50, 15, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, ALBERTO, M,
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294. j2008
Quoting WxGeekVA:


Hey look, I found the Dual-Pol! Much better resolution, and I can now tell the center is under convection.

Looks like the center is on the SE corner of the rain blob, you can see a small semi circle there. Sure looks like thats the main circulation, if it is Alberto might be a little healthier than we have been thinking.
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SEAS GIVEN AS SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT...WHICH IS THE AVERAGE
HEIGHT OF THE HIGHEST 1/3 OF THE WAVES. INDIVIDUAL WAVES MAY BE
MORE THAN TWICE THE SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT.



ANZ089-200300-
600 PM EDT SAT MAY 19 2012


.SYNOPSIS FOR MID ATLC WATERS...TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO NEAR
32.2N 77.7W AT 5 PM WILL MOVE SW TO 31.7N 78.5W BY 2 PM SUN...TO
32.7N 78.5W BY 2 PM MON...TO 34.5N 75.5W BY 2 PM TUE...BECOME AN
EXTRATROPCIAL LOW AT 37.5N 72.0W BY 2 PM WED...THEN DISSIPATE
THU. LOW PRES WILL DRIFT W ACROSS THE CENTRAL WATERS
TONIGHT...THEN MOVE INLAND SUN AND SUN NIGHT. A HIGH PRES RIDGE
WILL PERSIST N AND E OF THE AREA TONIGHT INTO MON. A THIRD LOW
IS EXPECTED TO PASS N ACROSS THE WATERS MON...THEN MOVE OFF TO
THE N TUE. A COLD FRONT WILL APPROACH THE COAST TUE AND TUE
NIGHT...THEN MOVE SE INTO THE NRN WATERS WED WHILE WEAKENING.
ANOTHER RIDGE WILL BUILD OVER THE AREA THU.
$$


------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------
SEAS GIVEN AS SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT...WHICH IS THE AVERAGE
HEIGHT OF THE HIGHEST 1/3 OF THE WAVES. INDIVIDUAL WAVES MAY BE
MORE THAN TWICE THE SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT.



ANZ088-200300-
CAPE FEAR TO 31N OUT TO 32N 73W TO 31N 74W
600 PM EDT SAT MAY 19 2012

TROPICAL STORM WARNING


TONIGHT
SHIFTING WINDS 30 TO 40 KT WITH GUSTS TO 50 KT NEAR
CENTER OF ALBERTO...EXCEPT E OF 75W 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 9 TO 18
FT...EXCEPT E OF 75W 6 TO 10 FT. SHOWERS AND TSTMS W OF 75W.

SUN
SHIFTING WINDS 35 TO 45 KT WITH GUSTS TO 55 KT NEAR
CENTER OF ALBERTO...EXCEPT E OF 75W 25 TO 35 KT. SEAS BUILDING
TO 12 TO 22 FT...EXCEPT E OF 75W 6 TO 12 FT. SHOWERS AND TSTMS W
OF 75W.

SUN NIGHT
SHIFTING WINDS 35 TO 45 KT WITH GUSTS TO 55 KT NEAR
CENTER OF ALBERTO...EXCEPT E OF 75W 25 TO 35 KT. SEAS BUILDING
TO 12 TO 22 FT...EXCEPT E OF 75W 6 TO 12 FT. SHOWERS AND TSTMS W
OF 75W.

MON AND MON NIGHT
SHIFTING WINDS 35 TO 45 KT WITH GUSTS TO 55
KT NEAR CENTER OF ALBERTO...EXCEPT E OF 75W 25 TO 35 KT. SEAS
BUILDING TO 14 TO 24 FT...EXCEPT E OF 75W 7 TO 14 FT. SHOWERS
AND TSTMS W OF 75W.

TUE
BECOMING W TO SW AND DIMINISHING TO 15 TO 25 KT. SEAS
BECOMING 7 TO 14 FT THROUGHOUT.

WED
WINDS BECOMING S TO SW 10 TO 20 KT. SEAS SUBSIDING TO 4
TO 8 FT.

THU
WINDS DIMINISHING TO E TO SE 10 KT. SEAS SUBSIDING TO 3
TO 5 FT.
$$
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The National Hurricane Center determined that the low had acquired all of the characteristics of a tropical cyclone, upgrading the system to tropical storm status. A ship traveling through the storm reports that the maximum sustained winds are now up to 60 mph, and Alberto is slowly moving SW at 3 mph.
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291. Gorty
If this summer is going to be neutral, what does that mean for the hurricane season?
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**REPOST**
(click to enlarge)
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That cloud burst seems to be approaching shore.
If the center is not going to make landfall, those clouds are not over the center.

That new hole might be the new center, meaning Alberto would be even more ragged.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9727


Hey look, I found the Dual-Pol! Much better resolution, and I can now tell the center is under convection.
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3471
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Nor should it... You know what time of day it is.


Great point, Alberto should start blowing deep convection around midnight or so, it's gonna be a fun night. I think your peak prediction is just about right, with DMAX in the morning, we should have a 65-70 mph. storm. Dry air is also affecting this, but small storms like to deepen quickly before they rapidly fade out. Thik about Rina, Marco, ect...
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
Quoting WxGeekVA:


Alberto does not look like a 60MPH Tropical Storm right now...
Never judge a book(Alberto) by it's cover(look)
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That Semi Circle is rounding off pretty fast now and the Se and East inflow is providing a Good fetch to those Feeder Bands.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128273
Quoting WxGeekVA:


Alberto does not look like a 60MPH Tropical Storm right now...

Nor should it... You know what time of day it is.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32033
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Charleston, S.C.

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.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128273
280. Gorty
Looks like dry air and wind shear and Dmin is really hurting our TS.
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HWRF



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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.