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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency for 40 counties, starting at 6 a.m. Sunday.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic basin officially begins on June 1. The evacuations affect about 4,200 homes.

As of Monday morning, Alberto's peak sustained winds were 65 miles per hour, and it was crawling north at 6 miles per hour.

Alberto's high winds also led to concerns over the threat of storm surge and unsafe rip currents from the coasts of Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.

US National Weather Service (NWS ) on Sunday released warnings that people living along coastal regions in Florida, Alabama and MS should "take this storm seriously", as up to a foot of rain is expected to flood low lying areas alongside high winds over the popular holiday weekend.

Alberto is expected to cause heavy rains in South Florida and the Florida Keys while a tropical storm watch is in effect for parts of MS and Alabama. "Today, I have declared a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties to make sure that our state and local governments are able to coordinate with federal partners to get the resources they need", Scott said. Destin and Panama City Beach are within the watch area.

A satellite image shows Alberto as it nears landfall on the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast on Monday
View Slideshow A satellite image shows Alberto as it nears landfall on the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast on Monday. NOAA STAR

"If you are planning to travel on Monday (Memorial Day) the combination of severe weather and heavy traffic conditions could prove hazardous". Many spent the holiday weekend filling sandbags while businesses closed down as the storm moved in. Warnings about storm surges and high surf were aired along the coast on either side of Apalachicola on Monday.

Mark Bowen, the Bay County Emergency management director, said Alberto's biggest threat would be its heavy rains, with forecasts of anywhere from four to 12 inches of rain in some areas. Rough conditions were expected to roil the seas off the eastern and northern Gulf Coast region through Tuesday.

Rain chances will remain intact through Memorial Day as some outer bands from Alberto could stream in through the region. "Flooding and flash flooding are possible in the southeast United States, including Florida".

A flash flood watch has be issued for this period as pockets of heavy rain could lead to localized flooding. The storm was expected to make landfall later in the day.

However, the storm should not be taken as an indicator of how this hurricane season will play out, he said. "It's not going to be widespread rainfall", Doody said.

The last time a named storm made landfall in this area was Tropical Storm Claudette in August 2009. The season is likely to be "near or above normal," according to the NHC.


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