PANAMA CITY, Fla. (CBS News)– Subtropical Storm Alberto has come ashore on the Florida Panhandle, bringing threats of heavy rain and flash floods to the region, the National Hurricane Center said Monday. The center said in its 5 p.m. advisorythat Alberto’s core made landfall Monday at Laguna Beach, about 15 miles west-northwest of Panama City.
With maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, the storm was moving north at 9 mph. A tropical storm warning is in effect for a stretch of coastline between Aucilla River in Florida’s Big Bend and the Alabama-Florida border.
The storm was expected to weaken as it continues moving inland. But forecasters said it will dump heavy rain on parts of the Florida Panhandle, Alabama and Georgia, raising the risk of flash flooding.
“Given the short period of time before Alberto makes landfall, its overall ragged appearance, and proximity to dry air, little change in strength is expected before the subtropical storm reaches the coast,” said John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist at the hurricane center.
Rough conditions were whipping up big waves off the eastern and northern Gulf Coast, and authorities warned swimmers to stay out of the surf because of life-threatening swells and rip currents.
Between four and eight inches of rain could pummel Florida Panhandle, eastern and central Alabama, and western Georgia before the storm moves on. Isolated deluges of 12 inches also were possible as the storm heads inland, threatening heavy rains around the Southeast in the coming hours and days.
As Alberto’s center heads inland — deprived of the warm waters that fuel tropical weather systems — the storm was expected to steadily weaken. 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.
Lifeguards posted red flags along the white sands of Pensacola Beach, where swimming and wading were banned.