20 May 2012

Pre-season tropical storm forms off southeast US coast

On the afternoon of May 19, a persistent circulation located off the North Carolina coast was upgraded to Tropical Storm Alberto based on abundant observations (radar, surface, ship, buoy, satellite).  The Atlantic hurricane season doesn't officially begin until June 1, but pre-season activity is certainly not unprecedented.  However, it is the earliest TS formation since 2003 (Ana formed on APRIL 18 of that year).

Currently, at 15Z on May 20, Alberto is located just 95 miles southeast of Savannah GA and heading WSW at 5kts (toward the Georgia coast).  The intensity is 40kts with a 1000mb central pressure.  As I write this, an aircraft is en route to the system to more accurately probe its intensity.  There is a tropical storm watch in effect for much of the SC coast... you can view the latest watches (and potential warnings) at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/storm_graphics/AT01/refresh/AL0112W5+gif/173428W_sm.gif

In the very near future, Alberto will get nudged further offshore by a trough, then accelerate toward the northeast and begin extratropical transition in the Tuesday-Wednesday timeframe.  It is not expected to significantly impact the US coast, though increased surf will be noticeable along GA, SC, and NC.

The intensity, track, and environment forecasts from several models are shown below:

You will be able to follow it on radar via Jacksonville and then Charleston:

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.
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