Forecasters issued tropical storm watches for portions of the United States, Cuba and Mexico on Friday after Subtropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the season, formed in the northwestern Caribbean Sea.
Alberto had winds of 40 mph, and the hurricane center said gradual strengthening will be possible over the next 72 hours.
A National Hurricane Center map shows Alberto approaching the Gulf Coast on Monday, somewhere between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle. "Heavy rain from [the storm] is still likely to be its number one threat, though we may also need to be concerned with storm surge damage and wind damage if the storm does manage to over-achieve".
Alberto is not a fully tropical system, with most of its worst weather on its eastern side.
Even though June 1 is generally the start of hurricane season, early storms are not uncommon. Subtropical storms can develop into tropical storms, which in turn can strengthen into hurricanes.
Right now, early forecasts project that the number of storms will be higher than average, and several forecasts indicate an above-average likelihood that a major hurricane will make landfall in the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast, or the US East Coast.
An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the low this afternoon.
The storm is expected to bring heavy rain to the Yucatan Peninsula, western Cuba, Florida and the northeastern Gulf Coast throughout the weekend.
The impacts from the system will stay east of Southeast Texas.
Flooding is possible in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties after weeks of rain that in some locations pushed total rainfall to more than two and three times usual May amounts.
Alberto is barely at tropical storm levels, but are forecast to increase. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain.
Winds and rough surf will create strong rip currents on the beaches and inland waters will be choppy.
A flash flood watch has been issued for every coastal county in the Mobile office's jurisdiction - an area that includes Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and stretches from Northwest Florida to MS - beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday and running to 7 p.m. Tuesday.