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Tropical Storm Alberto (1994)

Tropical Storm Alberto was the first storm of the 1994 Atlantic hurricane season. It hit Florida across the Southeast United States in July, causing a massive flooding disaster while stalling over Georgia and Alabama. Alberto caused $750 million in damage (1994 USD) and 30 deaths.

Contents


Meteorological history

A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on June 18. It moved westward across the dry, shear-ridden Atlantic Ocean, and remained weak until passing through the Greater Antilles. Deep convection developed over the wave in response to light vertical shear and warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, and organized into Tropical Depression One near the Isle of Youth on June 30. A trough of low pressure brought the depression to the northwest over the Gulf of Mexico, remaining weak due to increased upper level shear. The shear abated, allowing the depression to strengthen into Tropical Storm Alberto on July 2.

Alberto continued to the north-northeast in response to a short wave trough, and steadily strengthened as the convection became embedded around the center. Tropical Storm Alberto peaked with maximum sustained winds of just as it was making landfall near Destin, Florida. The storm would have likely attained hurricane status had it been over water just hours longer, as a warm spot was apparent, indicating the formation of an eye feature. Alberto quickly weakened to a tropical depression over Alabama as it continued to the northeast, but retained a well-organized circulation. High pressures build to its north and east, causing the remnant tropical depression to stall over northwestern Georgia. It turned to a west drift, and dissipated over central Alabama on July 7.

Preparations

On June 30, on the day of Alberto's formation, a tropical storm warning was issued from Puerto Juárez to Mérida, Mexico; the warning was discontinued on July 1. In the United States, a tropical storm watch was posted on July 2 for locations between Sabine Pass, Texas and Pensacola, Florida. The watch was subsequently upgraded to a tropical storm warning from Gulfport, Mississippi to Cedar Key, Florida; it was soon altered to a hurricane warning. Later on July 3, the hurricane warning was discontinued in replace of a tropical storm warning, which was lifted at 2100 UTC.[1]

On the Florida Panhandle, residents boarded up windows in anticipation of what was to be a "fury".[2] At gasoline stations, unusually long lines formed, and local stores did increased business in selling emergency supplies.[3] Thousands of tourists along the coast left the region; a local deputy was quoted as estimating that 10,000 people checked out of their hotels early. On Okaloosa Island and Holiday Isle, ground-floor house and businesses were forced to evacuate.[4] Civil-defense authorities evacuated residents from low-lying locations.[5] Then-Governor of Florida, Lawton Chiles, declared a State of emergency for parts of the state, and advised residents along the coast to monitor updates regarding the storm.[6] Over 3,000 people sought refuge in Red Cross shelters along the coast of Florida, westward into parts of Alabama.[7]

Impact

Radar image of Alberto (1994) at landfall

Radar image of Alberto (1994) at landfall
Upon forming, the storm dropped heavy rainfall over parts of Cuba, peaking at .[8][9]

Florida

Rainfall totals
Rainfall totals
At Destin, Florida, sustained winds blew at ,[10] while winds gusted to ; however, there was an unofficial report of gusts. There, barometric pressure fell to 993 mb in association with Alberto. Storm tides of was estimated along the coast of Destin, while tides reached at Panama City.[8] At St. George Island, wind gusts reached . Beach erosion and tidal flooding occurred along the coast.[11] Throughout northwest Florida, of rain fell,[8] with totals as high as . Other precipitation accumulations include at Caryville.[12]

Along the coast, damage was limited to sea walls, piers and boats, and roof damage to some beachfront motels. As the storm progressed inland, it brought down signs, billboards, trees and powerlines, and triggered moderate flooding; about 18,500 customers lost electric power. As a weakened tropical depression, the remnants of Alberto dropped extensive rainfall throughout the region.[10] As heavy rain fell to the north, tremendous volumes of water moved down major river systems into the Florida Panhandle.[13] As a result, there was extensive river flooding that exceeded 100-year events in some locations, particularly along the Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers. The Apalachicola remained above flood stage until August, although in localized areas, flooding persisted until September due to Tropical Storm Beryl. A total of 300,000 chickens and 125 cattles and hogs were lost within the state, and offshore, 90% of the oysters in Apalachicola Bay were lost. The flooding was severe, inflicting $40 million (1994 USD) in damage to infrastructure, $15 million in insured damage, and $25 million in agricultural losses.[10]

Georgia

Elsewhere

Lack of Retirement

Despite the tremendous damage, the name Alberto was not retired in Spring 1995, so was used again in 2000 and 2006 and will be used again during 2012.

See also

References

External links

es:Tormenta tropical Alberto (1994)