Alberto weakens, brings light rains to Georgia and South Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:31 PM GMT on May 20, 2012

Tropical Storm Alberto continues to move slowly to the west-southwest off the coast of South Carolina, and is bringing light rains to the coasts northern Georgia and southern South Carolina. Recent radar and satellite loops show that Alberto has weakened late this morning, and has lost most of its heavy thunderstorms. Upper level winds out of the west-southwest are creating a moderate 15 - 20 knots of wind shear over Alberto, and these winds are driving dry air into the storm, which has caused it to deteriorate. The dry air impinging on Alberto can be seen in water vapor satellite loops. Yesterday, Alberto was over the warm 81°F (27°C) water of the Gulf Stream, but today, the storm has moved west of the Gulf Stream, and is now centered over cooler waters of 79°F (26°C). This gives the storm a lot less energy to power it, and as Alberto drifts farther to the west-southwest today, ocean temperatures will get even cooler. A hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to visit Alberto this afternoon.


Figure 1. Late morning visible satellite image of Alberto.

Forecast for Alberto
Sporadic rain showers from Alberto are likely to affect the Georgia and South Carolina coasts today, and the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina on Monday. The heaviest rains and tropical storm-force winds should remain offshore, but even if Alberto did make landfall, the storm is too small to cause major flooding problems, particularly since the coast is under moderate to severe drought. Alberto's rains will be generally less than an inch over land areas, which will not be plentiful enough to cause significant drought relief. Wind shear is expected to increase to the high range, 30 - 40 knots, tonight through Monday, which should be able to rapidly disrupt a storm as small as Alberto. Steering currents are weak, and Alberto will wander off the coast of South Carolina through Monday morning, before getting caught up by a trough of low pressure on Monday night which should lift the storm out to the northeast. NHC is giving Alberto a less than 5% chance of reaching hurricane strength. Alberto should cause little or no damage to the coast, except perhaps for some coastal erosion due to high waves.


Figure 2. Late morning total rainfall image of Alberto from the Charleston, SC radar. Alberto's rains have been less than one inch along the coast, and most of the rain has fallen offshore.


Figure 3. Late morning radar image of Alberto from the Charleston, SC 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 Monday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Recon heading into Alberto, getting 23 mph winds in the outer bands.
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  • I cannot believe there is a Alberto off the coast of South Carolina!!  Is this the start of a busy season or just  a unusual occurance?  Has storm ever formed of South Carolina in May?

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Quoting WatchingThisOne:
To keep from OT'ing Jeff's blog, I've started using my WU blog for posting Fukushima info and updates. So far there is just a picture of an EQ cluster that has been forming off Honshu the last couple of days. I'll be working at expanding the content (slowly).

WTO's blog
Thanks, WTO. Pls do let us know when u add new info so we can check in.

Quoting Ameister12:
2004: A bad year for Florida.

(Pretty cool image, huh.)
Whoa... FL looks like a board that's about to be planed on both sides... talk about buzzsaw extravaganza...

Quoting weatherh98:


What if recon gets destroyed by aliens
Yeah, ancient ones [who I recently discovered are responsible for all the bad things that have happened to humans OR for making sure that humans have survived all the bad things that have happened to humans]
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26389
Quoting BahaHurican:
Well... the high part might be a bit excessive right now, given that it is not even a depression as yet. I agree with the alert part, though. Though the alert part should be standard once the season starts anyway.
Hey Baha. You seem to be having a wet weekend...it's windy here with intermittent showers.
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131. Skyepony (Mod)
recon~ At 17:06:30Z (last observation), the observation was 17 miles (28 km) to the SE (137°) from Macon, GA, USA.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
The issues with Alberto right now are threefold. One is that on his track he has entered cooler waters which are preventing strong convection from firing.



The second is the dry air which has overtaken all but the western quadrant of the system, apparent on WV. Oddly enough, the air is better for development over land than offshore!



The third is the lack of convergence and divergence.





Alberto can't fire and sustain convection without it.

Based on these factors, I expect Alberto to not last much longer. The environment is just too hostile for him to gain strength anymore, and with the approaching trough, he will be absorbed quickly in his weakened state.


Its blob season, watch that blob to its east
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6541
just a note...I talked to presslord on the phone... he did make it back to Charleston Harbor around midnight last night...he said that it was ROUGH sailing...the waves even in the harbor were beating him to heck and back...though many think Alberto is nothing much, anyone that is on the water needs to be wary...
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I had to research why the waters were cooler near the coast and notice in this map how the labrador current pushes cooler water down much more closer to coast as opposed to the gulf stream which is a little farther out from the coast.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Nah, it'll stay 50%.



It looks better than two days ago when is was like a wimpy area of convection.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 16622
Quoting Ameister12:
2004: A bad year for Florida.

(Pretty cool image, huh.)


I always think of Karl as the forgotten hurricane of 2004. 145mph, 200mile radius at peak intensity... 400 mile radius as he went extra tropical. For comparison, Frances was 145mph also and just shy of a 200 mile radius at its peak, and then ultimately hit florida with 105mph winds. Had Karl actually made landfall somewhere, i'm sure he would have been another one for the record books.

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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Looks OK on radar though. Different story on satellite.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Tx13, you think the % will go up for 92E. IMO I think 50%.

Nah, it'll stay 40%.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35603
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I am well aware. Residents along the coastline need to be on high alert.
Well... the high part might be a bit excessive right now, given that it is not even a depression as yet. I agree with the alert part, though. Though the alert part should be standard once the season starts anyway.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26389
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3486
Alberto may be weakening, but I still think Tropical Storm Watches could be issued for the northern coast of SC and the coast of NC.


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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

"12 Hurricanes of 2010"

Full Resolution

2010 was a great year. Plenty of amazing hurricanes.
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The issues with Alberto right now are threefold. One is that on his track he has entered cooler waters which are preventing strong convection from firing.



The second is the dry air which has overtaken all but the western quadrant of the system, apparent on WV. Oddly enough, the air is better for development over land than offshore!



The third is the lack of convergence and divergence.





Alberto can't fire and sustain convection without it.

Based on these factors, I expect Alberto to not last much longer. The environment is just too hostile for him to gain strength anymore, and with the approaching trough, he will be absorbed quickly in his weakened state.
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3486
Tx13, you think the % will go up for 92E. IMO I think 50%.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 16622
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35603
Quoting WxGeekVA:




This one


2010
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Quoting MahFL:


No it's not, the NHC says it's on the cooler shelf waters.


It is, that's more than likely why it can't fire off thebig convection that it was
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6541
114. MahFL
I can see Alberto from my house :)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
It has a very tight and well defined circulation, it just lacks any convection....



The weather channel mentioned that glob of convection off to the east could forminto something subtropical,
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6541
Quoting Ameister12:
2004: A bad year for Florida.

(Pretty cool image)

"12 Hurricanes of 2010"

Full Resolution
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111. MahFL
Quoting LargoFl:
its sitting right on the warm gulf stream waters......


No it's not, the NHC says it's on the cooler shelf waters.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
The most recent ASCAT did still have a few 35kt wind barbs, so unless Recon finds something conclusive that it is weaker, I still expect a 40MPH TS at the next advisory.



Looks kind of messy on the east side.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

What if recon finds a Cat 5?


What if recon gets destroyed by aliens
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
POLL:

What does Recon find?

A. Tropical Depression (30-35 MPH)
B. Tropical Storm (40 MPH)
C. Tropical Storm (45 MPH)
D. Tropical Storm (50 MPH)
E. Tropical Storm (Above 50MPH)
F. No longer a tropical system, too weak

I say B


I dont always poll, but when i do, i pick b
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6541
2004: A bad year for Florida.

(Pretty cool image, huh.)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It has a very tight and well defined circulation, it just lacks any convection....

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35603
The most recent ASCAT did still have a few 35kt wind barbs, so unless Recon finds something conclusive that it is weaker, I still expect a 40MPH TS at the next advisory.

Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3486
104. Skyepony (Mod)
Recon~ AF302...At 16:46:30Z (last observation), the observation was 39 miles (62 km) to the WSW (256) from Columbus, GA, USA

I'll go with B.
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Quoting nigel20:
Hey pottery. A better performance by the West Indies, but they are still facing a likely defeat

Still there.
But it looks pretty dread.
189 ahead now.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
POLL:

What does Recon find?

A. Tropical Depression (30-35 MPH)
B. Tropical Storm (40 MPH)
C. Tropical Storm (45 MPH)
D. Tropical Storm (50 MPH)
E. Tropical Storm (Above 50MPH)
F. No longer a tropical system, too weak

I say B
A but I am also thinking F
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Quoting pottery:

Spiritual. Oh, I mean Spirituous....
Hey pottery. A better performance by the West Indies, but they are still facing a likely defeat
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Quoting Thrawst:


It's sunny out where I am... the humidity is absolutely insane... wouldn't be surprised to see an extremely intense thunderstorm today... in fact... I haven't felt it this humid since last September, so a storm producing some small hail is definitely not out of the question.
We've been mostly cloudy along the south coast all morning, and now it's raining. I don't expect a thunderstorm, but it looks like we'll get the same as yesterday - some moderate rainful.

That reminds me to check rainfall totals from the Met office when I get 2 work tomorrow.

Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


the only reason for the call yesterday was
ship reports confirming sat image reports
Analysis observations matching those
near to land and the warning of maritime traffic in the region nothing more nothing less
I think the radar imagery had a lot to do with it. It was hard to ignore the technical validities with the system spinning right there in front of you.

I'm also not discounting Alberto just yet. The area in front of GA is not usually conducive to storm stabilization, since waters there are almost always colder than the offshore Gulf stream. If Alberto does make the turn back towards the north, I think we may begin to see some reconsolidation as it comes back over the GS.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26389
Quoting altesticstorm2012:

2004 or 2010?




This one
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3486
Quoting WxGeekVA:
POLL:

What does Recon find?

A. Tropical Depression (30-35 MPH)
B. Tropical Storm (40 MPH)
C. Tropical Storm (45 MPH)
D. Tropical Storm (50 MPH)
E. Tropical Storm (Above 50MPH)
F. No longer a tropical system, too weak

I say B



A
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
POLL:

What does Recon find?

A. Tropical Depression (30-35 MPH)
B. Tropical Storm (40 MPH)
C. Tropical Storm (45 MPH)
D. Tropical Storm (50 MPH)
E. Tropical Storm (Above 50MPH)
F. No longer a tropical system, too weak

I say B


B
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.."I never Pole on a Sunday"...
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
POLL:

What does Recon find?

A. Tropical Depression (30-35 MPH)
B. Tropical Storm (40 MPH)
C. Tropical Storm (45 MPH)
D. Tropical Storm (50 MPH)
E. Tropical Storm (Above 50MPH)
F. No longer a tropical system, too weak

B
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Quoting altesticstorm2012:
With the coming warm bias neutral season, I hope this year isn't another 2009 with everything weak and out to sea...

15/9/5
a 2008 if is neutral the same numbers and the numbers of hurricanes.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
POLL:

What does Recon find?

A. Tropical Depression (30-35 MPH)
B. Tropical Storm (40 MPH)
C. Tropical Storm (45 MPH)
D. Tropical Storm (50 MPH)
E. Tropical Storm (Above 50MPH)
F. No longer a tropical system, too weak

A.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35603
Quoting WxGeekVA:
POLL:

What does Recon find?

A. Tropical Depression (30-35 MPH)
B. Tropical Storm (40 MPH)
C. Tropical Storm (45 MPH)
D. Tropical Storm (50 MPH)
E. Tropical Storm (Above 50MPH)
F. No longer a tropical system, too weak

A, or F. It's just a naked swirl after all.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
POLL:

What does Recon find?

A. Tropical Depression (30-35 MPH)
B. Tropical Storm (40 MPH)
C. Tropical Storm (45 MPH)
D. Tropical Storm (50 MPH)
E. Tropical Storm (Above 50MPH)
F. No longer a tropical system, too weak

A
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 92 Comments: 8746
POLL:

What does Recon find?

A. Tropical Depression (30-35 MPH)
B. Tropical Storm (40 MPH)
C. Tropical Storm (45 MPH)
D. Tropical Storm (50 MPH)
E. Tropical Storm (Above 50MPH)
F. No longer a tropical system, too weak

I say B
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3486
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

What if recon finds a Cat 5?

Mind=Blown
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

What if recon finds a Cat 5?


Then we all have DOOM!
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3486

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