Subtropical Storm Alberto gained the early jump on the 2018 hurricane season as it headed toward anticipated landfall sometime Monday on the northern Gulf Coast, where white sandy beaches emptied of their usual Memorial Day crowds. Though the Atlantic hurricane season doesn't officially start until Friday, Alberto has become the first named storm this year, throwing disarray into long holiday weekend plans up and down Florida's Gulf Coast, the AP reports. And just as Memorial Day marked summer's unofficial start, Alberto gave it the unofficial start of what forecasters recently predicted would be an active hurricane season. Thousands of people have been evacuated from homes along the coast, the BBC reports.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 2am Monday that Alberto was maintaining its strength as it approached the Florida panhandle and was centered about 115 miles south-southwest of Panama City. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 65mph as it approached the northern Gulf of Mexico. "On the forecast track, the center of Alberto will move over the northern Gulf of Mexico overnight and cross the northern Gulf Coast in the warning area on Monday," the National Hurricane Center said. It warned of life-threatening surf conditions and the possibility of a few brief tornadoes in much of Florida and parts of Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Heavy rain is also expected in many areas. (Read more tropical storms stories.)