Environment

Subtropical Storm “Alberto” blamed for 8 deaths, 3 missing in U.S. and Cuba


At least 8 people have been killed and 3 are still missing after Subtropical Storm “Alberto” formed on May 25 and made landfall in Laguna Beach, Florida on May 28. Alberto is the first named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season which officially begins June 1 and lasts through November 30. Alberto tracked all the way into Michigan as a tropical depression. While this isn’t so rare, they don’t usually become better organized more than 1 100 km (700 miles) from landfall point.

Before it hit Florida, Alberto dropped heavy rain on western Cuba, leaving 4 people dead and shutting down numerous roads. The storm also flooded oil refinery in Cienfuegos Bay and forced evacuation of 20 000 people.

While landfall took place on May 25, Alberto was dropping heavy rain for quite some time. Its first victims in the U.S. were two journalists working for NBC affiliate WYFF in North Carolina. They were killed after their car was crushed by a tree on Monday, May 28, 2018.

Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate early Wednesday, May 30 in North Carolina’s McDowell County after a landslide compromised Lake Tahoma dam. Mandatory evacuations were lifted after engineers determined the dam was safe.

Shortly after, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency. 

On Wednesday afternoon, two people in Boone, North Carolina’s Watauga County, were killed after rainfall triggered a landslide that hit their home. While the police have not released the names of the victims yet, photos posted to social media show that the house was reduced to a rubble.

More than 50 roads in North Carolina were closed due to flooding, mudslides and fallen trees.

Heavy rain that hit Virginia caused dangerous and overwhelming flash floods, leaving three people missing.

A man and a woman are missing after more than 203.2 mm (8 inches) of rain fell in just a few hours in Albemarle County. Flash floods there swept away cars and closed about a dozen roads. The third missing person was swept away in Madison County. Rescue crews are still on the scene.

Alabama and Georgia, especially the city of Helen also saw significant flooding. The Savannah River in Georgia is at Minor Flood stage near Cylon and Burton’s Ferry, as well as the Tallulah River at Burton Dam.

Minor flooding was reported in parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Helped by low wind shear and high levels of moisture, Tropical Depression “Alberto” tracked all the way into Michigan and slightly reorganized. While tropical systems so far inland are not so rare, tropical depressions don’t usually gain organization so far away inland. Only a handful of tropical depressions have passed through the southern Great Lakes, and none have passed directly over Lake Michigan, TWC’s Jon Erdman said.

Meteorologists said the reorganization is likely due to daytime heating and abundant moisture in the Midwest.

Alberto transitioned to a post-tropical cyclone about 32 km (20 miles) WSW of Alpena, Michigan at 09:00 on Thursday, May 31. It was moving NNE near 55 km/h (35 mph) at the time and this motion was expected to continue until it attempts to merge with an approaching frontal wave in southeast Ontario by the end of the day.

With just 1 day until the official start of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, CSU meteorologists are calling for a near-average season with 14 named storms, including Alberto, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. 

The primary reason for reduction from the previous forecast is anomalous cooling in Tropical Atlantic.

Featured image: Tropical Depression “Alberto” on May 30, 2018. Credit: NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP/VIIRS





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