Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:35 PM GMT on June 13, 2006
Alberto is coming ashore in the sparsely populated Big Bend region of the Florida coast this morning. After a surprising burst of intensification that brought Alberto to the verge of hurricane status yesterday, dry air, cooler waters, and the continued 20-30 knots of wind shear have kept Alberto from reaching hurricane strength. Alberto is making landfall as a tropical storm with top winds between 45 mph and 50 mph. At 8 am EDT at Cedar Key the sustained winds were south at 33 mph gusting to 43 mph. At the Apalachicola buoy, about 45 miles south of the center of Alberto, winds were west at 36 mph gusting to 45 mph. The C tower in Apalachee Bay, just west of the storm center, winds were out of the northwest at 49 mph with gusts to 59 mph--but the wind instrument is 100 feet above the surface where wind speeds can be quite a bit higher than the surface. The 8am Hurricane Hunter flight found top winds of only 65 mph at 5000 foot altitude. A strong burst of deep convection has formed over the northern portion of the storm in the past few hours, but this is too late to bring Alberto up to hurricane strength.
Figure 1. Latest storm-centered satellite image of Alberto.
The biggest threat from Alberto remains storm surge. At 8 am EDT the tide at Cedar Key was about 3 to 4 feet above normal, and areas between Cedar Key and near where the center makes landfall to the north can expect storm surge heights of up to seven feet. Since this is a relatively unpopulated stretch of coast, damage should be relatively low. Another concern is tornadoes, but none have been reported yet in northern Florida today. At least two tornadoes were reported yesterday, one of which did minor damage at Jacksonville Beach.
Alberto will bring heavy rain and the threat of tornadoes to southern Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina over the next 36 hours, but the storm is not expected to re-intensify once it reaches the open Atlantic. At best, Alberto will bring top winds of 45 mph to these states.
I'll be back with an update later this afternoon.
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