PANAMA CITY (CBSMiami) – People along the northern Gulf Coast are bracing for Subtropical Storm Alberto, which is expected to make landfall Monday evening.READ MORE: Guns Sales On Pace For Record Year
It’s the first named storm of the season, coming four days befire the official start of hurricane season.
The American flag blew in the wind as heavy rains poured down on Panama City this memorial day.
The storm kept most people away from the beach on this holiday weekend but a couple of swimmers ignored the red flag warnings to stay out of the water.
“Don’t be out at the beach today if you’re in the panhandle, where you’re gonna get the rip current, just don’t be out there, be very, very careful,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of the Florida panhandle ahead of the storm. Storm surges are expected to be as high as four feet in some areas but its already wreaking havoc.
Officials said a possible tornado blew a trampoline up onto power lines in Stuart, Florida on Sunday.
Intense wind and heavy rainfall is battering the northern Gulf Coast where Memorial Day weekend is usually a busy time for families looking to kick off their summer vacations. Instead of packed beaches, however, the sandy shores were largely empty with red flags warning swimmers of dangerous rip currents and high surf.
“People are not allowed to go into the water, there could be legal consequences if they go in the water because they are very dangerous surf conditions,” said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford.READ MORE: 'I Am Getting My Strength Back Day By Day': Kidney Transplant Recipient On Road To Recovery
Forecasters say Alberto could pack 40 to 60 mile per hour sustained winds across the Florida panhandle into Alabama – with the potential for even higher gusts and flooding.
The greatest flood risk will be right across the panhandle where Alberto is set to make landfall. We could see 4-6 inches of rain with possibly 12 inches of rain.
Along the panhandle, businesses have accepted that this unofficial start to summer will be a letdown.
“Normally it’s a very large weekend but this weekend it’s not going to work out as such,” said John Hargan, Bartender at Riverside Café.
Many business owners spent the weekend filling sandbags and preparing for the brunt of the storm.
“I’m concerned and I’m listening and that’s all I can do take it one step at a time,” said Carmella from Saraland, Alabama.
In Cuba Sunday, Alberto left streets and homes flooded – a potential preview of what could happen in the U.S.
“I think everybody’s ready for this, I just hope it’s not as bad, I hope it’s not bad at all,” Scott said.
The official start to the hurricane season doesn’t actually begin until June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a forecast that calls for 10 to 16 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes.MORE NEWS: UF Will No Longer Require Masks On Campus
Alberto is expected to weaken into a subtropical depression after it makes landfall.