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US Gulf Coast Braces for 1st Named Storm of Hurricane Season


Gulfport, Mississippi, residents shovel sand into bags, preparing for Subtropical Storm Alberto to make its way through the Gulf of Mexico, May 26, 2018.

People living along the Gulf Coast of northern Florida to the Mississippi-Alabama border are preparing for Alberto - the first named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.

As of Sunday afternoon, Alberto was still a subtropical storm, with top sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour - strong enough to cause "life-threatening surf and rip-current conditions," forecasters say.

They also warn Alberto could dump as much as 63 centimeters of rain on parts of Cuba and 30 centimeters on the Florida Panhandle and Alabama. Isolated tornadoes are also possible.

Forecasters predict Alberto will weaken after it makes landfall and moves inland into the Tennessee Valley.

The Atlantic hurricane season traditionally lasts from June 1 until the end of November.

Experts predict 10 to 16 named storms this year with up to nine developing into hurricanes, including as many as four major hurricanes.

Last year was an exceptionally busy hurricane season, with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria devastating Puerto Rico, Houston, Texas, and the Florida Gulf Coast.

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