Tropical Storm Alberto forms off the South Carolina coast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:41 PM GMT on May 19, 2012

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The first named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season is here. Tropical Storm Alberto formed this afternoon off the coast of South Carolina--a little going-away present for outgoing NHC director Bill Read, who retires on June 1! Alberto has the potential to hit North Carolina as early as Monday, but since the storm is so small, it would only affect a small area of the coast with high winds and heavy rain. Upper level winds out of the southwest are creating a moderate 15 - 20 knots of wind shear over Alberto, and the storm is over the warm waters of Gulf Stream, which are 81°F (27°C), just above the 26°C threshold usually needed to sustain a tropical storm. The system is tangled up with an upper level trough of low pressure, which is pumping cold, dry air into the storm, slowing development. The dry air impinging on Alberto from the southwest can be seen in water vapor satellite loops. Heavy rain showers from Alberto are located about 50 miles offshore of the coast of South Carolina, as seen on Wilmington radar. At times today, 93L has had a cloud-free center resembling an eye on radar, but this was not a true eye.


Figure 1. True color satellite photo of Alberto taken at 1:50 pm EDT Saturday May 19, 2012. Image credit: NASA.

Forecast for Alberto
Rain showers from Alberto are likely to move onshore between Charleston and Wilmington Saturday night and Sunday, bringing 1 - 3 inches of rain to portions of the coast. The storm is too small to cause major flooding problems, particularly since the coast is under moderate to severe drought. Alberto's rains will not be plentiful enough to cause significant drought relief, except perhaps over a small region near the coast, where (and if) the storm makes landfall. Wind shear is expected to remain in the moderate range, 15 - 20 knots, through Monday, which is low enough to allow some slow development. Since the storm is very small, it is highly vulnerable to even a modest increase in wind shear or dry air, which could rapidly disrupt it. Steering currents are weak, and Alberto will wander off the coast of South Carolina through Sunday, before getting caught up by a trough of low pressure on Monday which should lift it out to the northeast. The moderate wind shear and dry air are likely to keep Alberto below hurricane strength. NHC is giving Alberto a 5 - 10% chance of reaching hurricane strength before dissipating on Thursday as it scoots northeast out to sea.


Figure 2. Late afternoon radar image of Alberto from the Wilmington radar.

Alberto in historical context
Alberto is earliest-forming tropical storm in the Atlantic Basin since Ana in 2003, which formed on April 21. Alberto is one of only three Atlantic tropical storms to form in May in the past 31 years. The others were Tropical Storm Arthur of 2008, and Tropical Storm Arlene of 1981. There was also a subtropical storm, Andrea, that formed in May of 2007. Formation of an early season tropical storm from an old frontal boundary, like occurred with Alberto, is not a harbinger of an active hurricane season--it's more of a random occurrence. Early season storms that form in the Caribbean, though, often signal that a busy hurricane season may occur.

I'll have an update Sunday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Patrap:


Wilmington
NEXRAD Radar

Base Reflectivity 0.50° Elevation
Range 248 NMI



a surprise could be landfall in SC
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Shear dropping nicely off the Carolina coast as expected.

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Alberto looks better than it has in the past 6 hours. The dry air that's intruding seems to be slightly less dry now.

We got a pretty solid looking convective blob and it looks like a feeder band MAY be setting up to the NE and blowing up it's own convection.
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Quoting Beachfoxx:
Hey Press - you were with us today as several of us WU folks met at HarrynT's. Stay safe!


Thought about PRESS in a DRESS....
and Aubie in a Pink TuTu!
Interesting that the first name coincided with our Girls of WU Meet!

Again stay safe.... We are watching Alberto & remembering other A Storms.
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Hey Press - you were with us today as several of us WU folks met at HarrynT's. Stay safe!
Quoting presslord:




mostly just rainy....harbor was pretty stirred up
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524. j2008
Quoting Slamguitar:
Alberto is ramping up convection because everybody went to bed! Also known as heading towards Dmax.

Either way, it should be an interesting several hours ahead for our Atlantic tropical storm.
Haha definatly, well I'm out for the night. Keep an eye on Alberto, if I kno him well enough hes got some tricks still left.
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Alberto is ramping up convection because everybody went to bed! Also known as heading towards Dmax.

Either way, it should be an interesting several hours ahead for our Atlantic tropical storm.
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Quoting reedzone:
Perfect explanation on what's happening here.. Lower wind shear!! The last shear map showed wind shear near 30 knots over Alberto, the newest shear map shows just under 20 knots, which has allowed convection to develop once again. We may see a comeback afterall.


Honestly, I don't think shear has ever really been strong over Alberto. Dry air is the larger problem.
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Perfect explanation on what's happening here.. Lower wind shear!! The last shear map showed wind shear near 30 knots over Alberto, the newest shear map shows just under 20 knots, which has allowed convection to develop once again. We may see a comeback afterall.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7390
nevermind I was right earlier, the new nhc floaters do not update

the screen goes blank when it goes to the next image, it is not a true jpg updated graphic

That really sucks for those who like to use the NHC floater images to update blogs
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518. j2008
Quoting cg2916:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
01L/TS/A/XX
MARK
31.67N/78.55W



possible convective refire


DMAX starting up? Not doing much, though.

Last couple frames it looks like convection has finally begun to fire over the LLC again. May not look like much but I have hopes for him. Alberto may yet live another day.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
01L/TS/A/XX
MARK
31.67N/78.55W



possible convective refire


DMAX starting up? Not doing much, though.
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01L/TS/A/XX
MARK
31.67N/78.55W



possible convective refire
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53839
515. j2008
Quoting presslord:




mostly just rainy....harbor was pretty stirred up
Awesome, thanks. Hopefully this will just be a nice rain event for you guys. Stay safe and keep us updated. In the meanwhile get some rest.
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Quoting presslord:




mostly just rainy....harbor was pretty stirred up


Good to see my fellow South Carolinian again. If Alberto can actually manage to get itself together again, you'll be our first-hand reporter!
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**11:00PM ADVISORY**
(click to magnify graphics; graphics can be further magnified in link window)

Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313

Quoting j2008:
Good to see your back safe. Glad you could cheak in with the night crowd. Alberto really looking bad on radar (as in unhealthy), how is it there besides rainy?



mostly just rainy....harbor was pretty stirred up
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I think convection is starting to creep back towards Alberto's center.
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510. j2008
Quoting presslord:
docked and worn out....raining in Charleston
Good to see your back safe. Glad you could cheak in with the night crowd. Alberto really looking bad on radar (as in unhealthy), how is it there besides rainy?
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Quoting presslord:
docked and worn out....raining in Charleston
good too hear now go home and get some sleep
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53839
Quoting Tazmanian:
i wounder if Alberto still has a low with it


low chance lol
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53839
docked and worn out....raining in Charleston
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i wounder if Alberto still has a low with it
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If anyone's still here, stick around; I'm doing a blog update on 92E now. The previous discussion for Alberto will be appended, save updating current storm information to match recent NHC fixes.
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LOL, the ancient Rolling Stone, Mick Jagger on SNL is showing a heluva lot more life right now than, uh, "newborn" Alberto!
;)

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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53839
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Good Night. I'm not sure if I should expect a decoupled and barely alive Alberto in the morning, or a re-strengthened and vertically stacked storm.



It doesn't even take satellite imagery to see that, look at the radar imagery, it looks like crap, lol.

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Derived from (NHC)ATCF data for TropicalStormAlberto
MaximumSustainedWinds have been re-evaluated&altered
for 32.9n77.1w from ~35knots(40mph)65k/h to ~35knots(40mph)65k/h and
for 32.5n77.3w from ~35knots(40mph)65k/h to ~40knots(46mph)74k/h
MaxSusWinds, MinimumPressure and TropicalCycloneStatus have been re-evaluated&altered
for 32.3n77.6w from ~40knots(46mph)74k/h 1007millibars (closed)Low
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .to ~45knots(52mph)83k/h 1000millibars TropicalStorm

On 20May12amGMT, TSAlberto's ATCF position was 32.2n78.0w
It's vector has changed from SW at ~3.2mph(6k/h) to WSW at ~4mph(6.5k/h)
Its MaxSusWinds have increased from ~45knots(52mph)83k/h to ~50knots(58mph)93k/h
And its minimum pressure has decreased from 1000millibars to 995millibars
For those who like to visually track TSAlberto's path...
JAX is Jacksonville,Florida , SSI is St.SimonsIsland,Georgia, 08GA is Darien,Georgia

The northeasternmost unconnected dot amongst was TSAlberto's initial position as 93L
The easternmost dot on the short line-segment is where the NHC declared 93L to be TSAlberto
The westernmost dot on the short line-segment was its most recent ATCF position

The long line-segment is a straightline projection through its 2 most recent positions to the coastline
TSAlberto was headed toward passing over WolfIsland near Darien,Georgia in ~1day22hours

Copy&paste jax, ssi, 08ga, svn, hhh, bft, kjzi, gge, 33.4n76.4w, 33.3n76.6w, 33.1n76.8w, 32.9n77.1w, 32.5n77.3w, 32.3n77.6w-32.2n78.0w, 32.3n77.6w-31.323n81.286w into the GreatCircleMapper for more info
The previous mapping for comparison.
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The weather does what it wants here in Central Florida, today the forecast was a 10% chance of a shower with activity moving inland toward the east coast. However instead the thunderstorms moved west and a sea breeze collision occurred over Tampa Bay, I watched the thunderstorms developed and ended up getting pelted by nickel sized hail lol. It was a pretty intense thunderstorm, a ton of lightning and a lot of wind, we also got over 1 inch of beneficial rain, not bad for a day with only a 10% in the forecast eh? :)


Weather is funny that way sometimes though, with all countless amount of intense thunderstorms I've seen here, I've rarely seen hail in any of them, yet today with barely a chance of rain in the forecast I get pelted by hail while watching a thunderstorm blow in, hahaha.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Anybody know who is taking the place of Dr. Knabb at TWC, now that he's moving to the NHC? Hopefully someone good that doesn't feed people non-sense(Scenario:) so they don't freak out to the reality that there's a possible storm that could threaten they're area. Which in my mind is ridiculous, If there's a possibility of something threatening somewhere, YOU DON'T DOWNPLAY IT AND PUSH IT OFF AS SOMETHING THAT WON'T BE DEADLY.
and That's why I don't watch TWC...
I miss Dr. Lyons


Knabb said that the job will probably allow him to still be on TWC a good amount of time, so probably still him and Norcross.
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**11:00PM ADVISORY**
(click to magnify graphics; graphics can be further magnified in link window)

Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
Quoting tiggeriffic:
i read several pages back he was out on his boat trying to get into Charleston Harbor...said it was hairy out there and that was before 8pm


Thanks. He is a good mariner so I am sure he will be ok and check in with us tomorrow. Good Night Folks.
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Quoting CothranRoss:
I am still a novice when it comes to these kind of things, and googling meteorological terms doesn't usually end well. Can somebody explain decoupling to me?



For a visual, it's similar to what you see here.

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01L/TS/A/XX
MARK
31.67N/78.55W
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53839
Good night all
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8032
Quoting tiggeriffic:


I always have the water, batteries, kerosene, generators, etc...I don't keep an abundence of gasoline as it is combustible and i dont need it in the winter as we have gas heat, water heater and stove in our home so even if power is out we have heat and hot water and can cook, but at the end of every season i always donate all canned food to the food banks as we typically only eat fresh or frozen...time to start buying stuff in cans again...
can goods are only good for 6 months anyway unless the can is made with a liner
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53839
Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Wondering where Presslord is with a report.....Would certainly rather see a weak tropical storm than a major hurricane affecting the beautiful, and old, City of Charleston and other parts nearby.
i read several pages back he was out on his boat trying to get into Charleston Harbor...said it was hairy out there and that was before 8pm
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Well, I guess Alberto is getting sheared to bits...

That's a pretty disgusting radar image. The storm needs to pick a new CoC, and fast!
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Wondering where Presslord is with a report.....Would certainly rather see a weak tropical storm than a major hurricane affecting the beautiful, and old, City of Charleston and other parts nearby.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:
I dont like the new floaters for the NHC, the images dont seem to update manually


nevermind got it to work
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Well, I guess Alberto is getting sheared to bits...
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3471
I dont like the new floaters for the NHC, the images dont seem to update manually
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Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8032
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
slowly getting there

Yes, 92E is looking much better today
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8032
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
yep 19 mins and we be 11 days away now would be a good time to start getting kits together in hurricane prone area's just in case


I always have the water, batteries, kerosene, generators, etc...I don't keep an abundence of gasoline as it is combustible and i dont need it in the winter as we have gas heat, water heater and stove in our home so even if power is out we have heat and hot water and can cook, but at the end of every season i always donate all canned food to the food banks as we typically only eat fresh or frozen...time to start buying stuff in cans again...
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Hi KOG
Be ready! You know some of us stay ready! Don't want to see any here on the northside of the GOM this year, but you know us old time WU folks are going to be here watching, waiting....
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
yep 19 mins and we be 11 days away now would be a good time to start getting kits together in hurricane prone area's just in case
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Quoting nigel20:
Invest 92E

slowly getting there
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53839
Quoting tiggeriffic:
Ok...so I am going thru the weekend trying to get stuff done not really paying attention to the news at all...we go to an auction this evening just to get away from it all and my phone sends me a weather alert...i click the app thinking yep, more rain like the other night so I have to watch for local flooding...when the sucker finally comes up there is a named storm...REALLY???? That was a big "Hey you, stupid, think its time to start getting your supplies ready" kind of thing....
yep 19 mins and we be 11 days away now would be a good time to start getting kits together in hurricane prone area's just in case
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53839
Invest 92E

Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8032
Hey Pat,

You chat with MissNafia today???
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.