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Tropical Storm and Storm Surge Watch Continues for Pensacola

Subtropical Storm Alberto is now forecast to strengthen and take a track a little closer to Florida's west coast. This has prompted the National Hurricane Center to issue a Tropical Storm Watch for much of the Greater Tampa Bay Area. A Storm Surge Watch has also been issued for sections of the Nature Coast north of Crystal River.

Rain from the season's first named storm moved into much of South Florida early Saturday morning, but in most cases it has been light and steady. Heavier rain bands from Subtropical Storm Alberto are forecast to move across the peninsula Saturday night and Sunday, and a Flood Watch continues for all of central and south Florida through Sunday evening.

The coastal hazards associated with Alberto, namely high surf, coastal flooding, and minor surge will begin to affect portions of southwest Florida Saturday night, moving up the coast to west-central sections of the state on Sunday. Water spouts and an isolated tornado are also possible in the stronger rain squalls Sunday, as low-level spin increases on Alberto's eastern side.

Beyond Sunday, Subtropical Storm Alberto is forecast to turn to the northwest - further away from Florida's west coast - and approach the Florida Panhandle. By Monday, conditions are projected to become more favorable for strengthening into a formidable tropical storm, and Alberto is likely to make landfall near or just west of Pensacola. Lingering moisture will likely lead to several more days of enhanced rainfall across the peninsula, but the coastal hazards should subside some Monday and Tuesday.

A Tropical Storm Watch and Storm Surge Watch has been issued for coastal regions of Excambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties. A Flash Flood Watch is also in effect for the entire WUWF listening area, including inland areas.

The heaviest rain will arrive Sunday and potentially linger through Tuesday. Rain squalls might also contain water spouts or produce damaging wind gusts during this time frame. Rainfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches are expected through Tuesday, with locally higher amounts (possibly double these amounts).  Flash flooding is possible, especially in the hours right after the heaviest downpours. River flooding is also possible, which will be highly dependent on where the heaviest rain falls. 

There is a high risk of life threatening rip currents through Monday night. Minor coastal flooding and beach erosion is possible, with wave heights rising to 5+ feet Saturday afternoon through Tuesday evening.  During high tide, coastal flooding of 2 - 4 ft along low lying areas of the coast, bays and sounds is possible.

Subtropical Storm Alberto's moisture and resulting downpours may linger over the state through much of next week, further aggravating the flooding risk. However, other tropical weather hazards such as surge, wind and coastal flooding should subside by Tuesday.

Copyright 2021 WUFT 89.1. To see more, visit WUFT 89.1.

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Jeff Huffman