Florida, Mississippi Declare a State of Emergency as Alberto Churns in the Gulf

May 26, 2018

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The Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t begin until June 1, but it seems one storm missed that memo. Subtropical Storm Alberto, first named tropical system of the year, formed Friday afternoon — becoming only the fourth storm to develop in the Gulf of Mexico during May in NOAA records. As this storm meanders northward, it threatens to wreck Memorial Day plans in Florida and across the Gulf Coast.

With 40-mph top sustained winds and a minimum pressure of just 999mb, Subtropical Storm Alberto doesn’t currently pose much of a wind threat. But, these type of tropical systems can produce incredible amounts of rain. Flood watches have already been issued for much of the Florida Peninsula, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Image courtesy of Weather Underground.
Image courtesy of Weather Underground.

Cuba is currently being drenched by the storm, with forecasts of 10-15 inches of rain likely to cause flooding and mudslides in parts of the island nation. Forecasts for the Gulf Coast are looking a bit better with only isolated areas expected to get 8-12 inches of rain.

Image courtesy of Weather Underground.
Image courtesy of Weather Underground.

Although the storm isn’t very powerful, coastal flooding is still a threat due to the storm’s circulation combined with its northward movement and the shape of the Gulf’s coast. Due to this risk, both Florida and Mississippi have declared a states of emergency ahead of the storm.

So far, airlines have been slow to issue waivers. As of 3:45pm on Saturday, only Southwest has issued a travel waiver — allowing passengers to rebook their flights on a different day.

Southwest

  • Travel date: May 26
  • Airports covered: Fort Lauderdale (FLL); Fort Myers (RSW); Orlando (MCO); Tampa (TPA) West Palm Beach (PBI); Grand Cayman (GCM); Havana (HAV)
  • Travel dates: May 27-28
  • Airports covered: New Orleans (MSY); Panama City (ECP); Pensacola (PNS)
  • Customers who are holding reservations to/from/through these cities on the corresponding dates may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge.

No waivers yet from: Alaska, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Spirit and United.

Featured image by Lionel Chamoiseau/AFP/Getty Images

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