Are you heading to the gulf coast for Memorial Day weekend? Alberto may change those plans. The National Hurricane Center says a rare May tropical storm could form in the Gulf of Mexico this week. Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said although water temperatures are barely warm enough to fuel a storm, “it is possible the system becomes a subtropical depression or storm if it creates a well-defined and strong enough wind field.” If it gets to a tropical depression or higher, it will be named Alberto. That already has the gulf coast on edge because it was Tropical Storm Alberto back in 1994 that flooded much of southern Alabama and especially south Georgia. Regardless of whether a named storm occurs, a persistent flow of humid, tropical air will help funnel rain this week into Florida and across much of the eastern United States. The Weather Prediction Center says showers and thunderstorms will slowly move northward into the Southeast and into the central Gulf Coast by Tuesday evening. The rain is welcome in parts of Florida, as more than 26% of the state is in a moderate drought. However, the rain could be too much of a good thing, as flash flooding is possible throughout the state. Soaking rains will make it as far north as the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic: “Tropical moisture flowing northward into the area combined with a stalled front will yield the unsettled weather in places such as Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia through much of the week,” said meteorologist Dan Pydynowski. Named storms in May in the Gulf are exceedingly rare: The most recent named storm to form in the Gulf of Mexico in May was a subtropical storm in 1976, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach. He said only four named storms have formed in the Gulf of Mexico in May since records began in 1851. The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1.
(Picture used in story shows location of system as of yesterday. It is expected to drift slowly northward and strengthen as it gets into the gulf)