Subtropical Storm Alberto forms; what does that mean?

Tropical depression formation expected Saturday

TAMPA— The first tropical system of the 2018 hurricane season has formed in the Caribbean and threatens to drench the Tampa Bay area with heavy rains and potential flooding over the Memorial Day weekend.

The center of the storm was located about 100 miles south-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and 195 miles south-southwest of the western tip of Cuba as of the National Hurricane Center's 8 p.m. EDT update.

Forecasters from the US-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) have said there is a 90% chance tropical storm Alberto will develop the within the next five days. That's just below tropical storm strength. The "subtropical" designation is a weather science nuance. We were dealing with steady rain for south Florida for the majority of last week with tropical moisture that did not get organized enough to become a named system.

Heavy rain will likely begin to affect the central Gulf Coast region and the southeastern US later this weekend and continue into early next week.

Just a year ago, we had a named storm - Tropical Storm Arlene - east of Bermuda in April. But make no mistake, the risk of flash flooding will continue beyond Saturday morning as the tropical system begins to have more of an impact on our weather late in the weekend.

More news: Three reasons why Ireland were competitive in their inaugural Test against Pakistan

It's called a "subtropical storm" because it's something of a hybrid between a nontropical low-pressure area and a classic tropical storm. Temperatures will be in the upper 90s Memorial Day weekend and will approach triple digits next week.

"Locally heavy rainfall is forecast across western Cuba and over much of Florida and the northern Gulf coast into early next week", senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said in Friday's tropical weather outlook.

The rain won't fall uniformly across the area, however.

Forecasters expect a subtropical or tropical depression to form by late Saturday over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. Along with heavy rains and high winds come rough seas and a threat of rip currents from Florida to Louisiana that can sweep swimmers out to sea.

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