Thousands evacuate as Alberto bears down on northern Gulf Coast

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Sunday: Showers likely, mainly before 2 pm.

After meandering on Friday, Alberto gained some strength on Saturday and forecasters said it could transition from subtropical to full tropical status - a change dictated by the system's structure and the factors influencing its power.

A 70 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms is forecast for Wednesday, which should be cloudy with a high near 87.

Alberto is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over western Cuba, South Florida and the Florida Keys, the National Hurricane Centre said on Sunday.

If Alberto holds its northward heading, the storm could move inland around Apalachicola, Florida, or other communities across western Apalachee Bay as early as Sunday night.

A flash flood watch will be in effect for Myrtle Beach and surrounding areas starting Sunday night into Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina. Lifeguards posted red flags along the white sands of Pensacola Beach, where swimming and wading were banned due to high surf and unsafe conditions. Swelling riverbanks, tornadoes and localized flooding are possible. Tornadoes are not expected on the Coast, the weather service said.

Gulf Coast residents should "take this storm seriously", the National Weather Service said on Sunday as Subtropical Storm Alberto drove north through the Gulf of Mexico, threatening heavy rains and winds to the southern coastal states.

A subtropical storm like Alberto has a less defined and cooler center than a tropical storm, and its strongest winds are found farther from its center. Judah noted the sustained winds in the area would be between 30 and 45 miles per hour with some gusts up to 50 miles per hour possible.

Some parts of the area have already seen some showers and storms this morning.

"The Memorial Day holiday won't be too bad".

It is still being influenced by an upper level low, which for now, is providing shear and Alberto's asymmetrical look. He said Alberto's biggest threat will be its heavy rains, with forecasts of anywhere from four to 12 inches (10-30 centimeters) of rain in some areas.

The bulk of rainfall is expected to remain offshore through Monday morning as drier air filters in over the area from the southwest. A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Dry Tortugas.

"Instead of the more widespread rain that we saw on Sunday, were looking more at scattered thunderstorms for today (Monday), mostly in the afternoon", he said.