RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Tropical Storm Alberto emerged off South Carolina's coastline Sunday, the first storm of its kind to form in a hurricane season that doesn't officially begin until June 1.
The storm was not expected to approach landfall on the Carolinas' coast, but it prompted a tropical storm watch and forecasters warned that it could produce high winds, heavy surf, rip currents and scattered rain across the region.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami reported at 8 a.m. EDT Sunday that Alberto, after forming Saturday in the Atlantic, was about 95 miles (153 km) south-southeast of Charleston, S.C.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph), with higher gusts, and was moving west-southwest about 6 mph (10 kph). Tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the center.
The storm was not expected to strengthen, but forecasters warned people on the coast from Georgia to the North Carolina's Outer Banks to watch its progress. The tropical storm watch was in effect in South Carolina from the Savannah River to the South Santee River.
National Weather Service meteorologist Sandy LaCorte in Wilmington said Saturday evening that the storm was not expected to get close to the Carolinas' coast.
The hurricane center said a decrease in forward speed was expected through Sunday, and begin turning northeast and heading farther out to sea sometime Monday.
Alberto was named a tropical storm Saturday upon forming in the Atlantic. Tropical storms occasionally occur before the official June 1 start of the hurricane season.
National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/