Alberto forms in Gulf as first named storm of season; will Atlantic system bring rain?

The first winds and signs of tropical trouble for 2024 have officially arrived.

Tropical Storm Alberto formed Wednesday morning in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, the first named storm of what is expected to be a busy hurricane season.

At around 2 p.m., Alberto was located 185 miles east of Tampico, Mexico, and 295 miles south-southeast of Brownsville, Texas. Winds were peaking around 40 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami. For Alberto to become a hurricane, sustained winds of 73 mph would have to happen, which isn't likely before the storm moves onto land, forecasters said.

Tropical storm force winds of Alberto, the first named storm of the 2024 hurricane season, extend from Mexico to the southern part of Texas.
Tropical storm force winds of Alberto, the first named storm of the 2024 hurricane season, extend from Mexico to the southern part of Texas.

“Rapid weakening is expected once the center moves inland, and Alberto is likely to dissipate over Mexico” on Thursday, the NHC said.

It’s the first real winds of the tropical season, with more assuredly on the way in the upcoming peak months. Some forecasts have even predicted more than double the number of average named storms for the 2024 season, citing a rising La Niña and water temperatures in the runway between Africa and the Gulf of Mexico that are 3.6 to 7 degrees warmer than normal.

Federal forecasters last month predicted an "extraordinary" season with as many as 25 named storms possible — the highest number of named storms the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted.

An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms, seven of them hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

An early June storm dumped more than 20 inches of rain on parts of South Florida, stranding numerous motorists on flooded streets throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties. That storm, despite producing a tornado in Martin County, did not have any sustained wind associated with it and never reached name status.

Coastal flooding, not wind, likely biggest threat with Alberto

Alberto was moving west on Wednesday at a slow 9 mph pace. Tropical storm warnings were in effect from the Texas coast at San Luis Pass southward to the mouth of the Rio Grande, and from the northeastern coast of Mexico south of the mouth of the Rio Grande to Tecolutla.

The storm is expected to make landfall in northeastern Mexico on Thursday morning with rain and wind reaching Texas and coastal Louisiana, according to the NHC.

Alberto isn't packing a big punch, but it is a relatively large storm, with tropical-storm-force winds extending up to 415 miles north of the center. The hurricane center said heavy rainfall from the storm will reach large regions of Central America, north across northeastern Mexico and into South Texas.

Officials said the peak storm surge could reach up to 2 to 4 feet, including around Galveston Bay in Texas.

Nick Carr, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Miami, said flooding on the coast will be the biggest threat with Alberto.

"The wind will be nothing to write home about with this storm," he said. "It's kind of a sprawling, disorganized system that is funneling a lot of water toward the northern part of Mexico and the southern part of Texas. It's a very sloppy, early-season system."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has activated three platoons of the Lone Star State's National Guard, including more than 40 personnel, 20 vehicles and Chinook helicopters.

"Texans in at-risk areas are urged to remain vigilant, monitor weather conditions and take necessary precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe," Abbott said in a statement.

For now, the coastal city of Houston is not in any significant threat of flooding, but a tropical storm warning does cover coastal counties from just south of Galveston to the U.S.-Mexico border. Tropical storm-force winds with 50-mph gusts are likely along the coast.

"This rainfall will likely produce considerable flash and urban flooding along with new and renewed river flooding," the hurricane center said. "Life-threatening flooding and mudslides are likely in and near areas of high terrain across the Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, including the cities of Monterrey and Ciudad Victoria."

Alberto's arrival on the day before the official first day of summer is a somewhat late start to the season. The last time a storm formed this late into June was 2014 when Arthur formed June 30.

System in Atlantic will bring some heavy surf and possible showers to South Florida

Tropical Storm Alberto has formed in the Gulf of Mexico while another system is forecast to approach the coast of the southeastern U.S. by Friday, but should veer north of South Florida and move closer to Jacksonville and southern Georgia.
Tropical Storm Alberto has formed in the Gulf of Mexico while another system is forecast to approach the coast of the southeastern U.S. by Friday, but should veer north of South Florida and move closer to Jacksonville and southern Georgia.

Meanwhile, closer to home, an area of showers and thunderstorms a few hundred miles east of the Bahamas is still in the developmental stages. The system, with a surface trough of low pressure, is in environmental conditions that the hurricane center calls "marginally conducive for some gradual development during the next few days while it moves westward or west-northwestward."

The system is forecast to approach the coast of the southeastern U.S. by Friday, but should veer north of South Florida and move closer to Jacksonville and southern Georgia.

Development chances are low, only 10% to 20% through the next two to seven days. Still, the system could bring some more rainfall to South Florida on Friday and throughout the weekend, but nothing more than an average June weekend in Palm Beach County.

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As the southern states deal with rain and wind, much of the nation continues to struggle with record-breaking heat. More than 90 million Americans faced excessive heat watches, warnings or advisories Wednesday, mostly in the Upper Midwest and Northeast.

The heat could continue in those spots, with "some monthly records possible," the NWS warned Wednesday.

First named storms for Atlantic hurricane season

  • 2024: Alberto, June 19

  • 2023: Arlene, June 1

  • 2022: Alex, June 5

  • 2021: Ana, May 22

  • 2020: Arthur, May 16

  • 2019: Andrea, May 20

  • 2018: Alberto, May 25

  • 2017: Arlene, April 19

  • 2106: Alex, January 12

  • 2015: Ana, May 8

  • SOURCE: National Hurricane Center

USA Today Network contributed to this report.

James Coleman is a journalist at The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at jcoleman@pbpost.com and follow him on X (formerly known as Twitter) at @JimColeman11. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Tropical Storm Alberto forms in Gulf of Mexico with 40 mph winds

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