As expected, the circulation we were monitoring off of the coast of the Carolina's became Tropical Storm Alberto as of the 4pm CDT advisory this afternoon from the National Hurricane Center. I would typically follow this with something like "Alberto is the first named storm of the season..." but the season hasn't even started yet! Just like the Pacific, the Atlantic basin seems to be getting off to a slight head start this year, as the official tropical storm and hurricane season isn't set to begin until June 1. Of course, we all know that the weather doesn't follow a calendar, so enough of that discussion...
As of the 10pm CDT/11pm EDT advisory, the center of Alberto was located about 110 miles Southeast of Charleston, SC. Maximum sustained winds were estimated at 50 mph, and the minimum central pressure was 29.47 inches of mercury.
The system continues to move very little to erratically, currently drifting Southwest at about 6 mph. A continued "wobbly" motion toward the South or Southwest is expected overnight and into at least early Sunday, with the system then expected to assume a track more toward the North/Northeast later Sunday and into Monday.
Earlier today, forecast models were bringing the system ashore along the North Carolina coast by midday Sunday. With steering flow aloft rather weak and disorganized at this time, it appears that the system won't be able to really make a "run" toward the coast until during the day Tuesday. Even then, most of the model consensus currently keeps the center of the system immediately offshore of the North Carolina coast by about 8pm Tuesday:
The system is so compact at this time that it would perhaps be a stretch for tropical storm force winds to reach the coastline based on the above track, especially in South Carolina. However, we all know that both the track and the span of the wind fields can change on a dime when it comes to tropical systems, so folks along the Carolina coasts should keep a close eye on the progression of this system over the next few days.
Heavy wave action and increasing rip currents will continue along both the South and North Carolina coasts tonight, Sunday and Monday.
I'll post another detailed update tomorrow morning.
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