Subtropical Storm Alberto strengthened slightly overnight as it continued to move over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center, but Louisiana continues to appear to be in the clear when it comes to the heavier rainfall associated with the system.
A tropical storm warning remains in effect for an area stretching from Florida's Suwannee River to the border of Alabama and Mississippi. The storm, coming on the last day of the Memorial Day weekend, was expected to scramble holiday travel. But forecasters said it will dump heavy rain on parts of the Florida Panhandle, Alabama and Georgia, raising the risk of flash flooding.
Monday: We are now see a small break in the shield of rain, but bands of rain with isolated storms are beginning to move into Southeast Alabama.
The storm's remnants could reach Upstate by Wednesday night or Thursday, according to local National Weather Service offices. A storm surge watch means life-threatening inundations are possible from rising water moving inland from the coast.
A storm surge warning was in place from the Suwannee River to Navarre, Florida and a tropical storm warning covered from the Suwannee River to the border of MS and Alabama.
View Slideshow A satellite image shows Alberto as it nears landfall on the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast on Monday. NOAA STAR
Parts of the United States have declared states of emergency in preparation for Alberto, a severe weather pattern expected to morph into a tropical storm by the time it makes landfall. With a subtropical storm, the strongest winds and thunderstorms are located far away from the center, even though they may be just as strong as those found in a tropical storm.
Lifeguards posted red flags along the white sands of Pensacola Beach, where swimming and wading were banned. "This is definitely a risky storm", said David Roth, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
Meanwhile, the storm forced some Memorial Day tributes to be cancelled across Florida's Panhandle.
Isolated tornadoes were possible across the region on Sunday and Monday.
Hurricane season doesn't officially begin until June 1, but Alberto apparently missed the memo. One to four hurricanes could be "major" with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour.
The heaviest rain will fall along the Gulf Coast where more than a half a foot of rain could accumulate. The tropical storm watch along the north-central Gulf Coast has been discontinued.