Subtropical Storm Alberto is expected to remain well west of the Triangle as it moves north from the Gulf of Mexico, but the storm is helping to steer heavy, potentially flooding rains our way.
Alberto marks the first named storm of the 2018 hurricane season, which officially begins June 1. The evacuations affect about 4,200 homes.
At 8 a.m. Monday, the National Hurricane Center updated its forecast to say Alberto, positioned about 100 miles south-southeast of Destin, had winds of up to 65 mph and was expected to cross the northern Gulf Coast in the warning area Monday afternoon or evening.
Residents in the western portion of the county can expect sustained winds of 20 to 30 miles an hour with gusts up to 40 miles an hour-mainly along the US 19 and Little Road corridors-beginning early this afternoon into the early overnight hours Monday.
Gulf Coast residents should "take this storm seriously", the National Weather Service said on Sunday as Subtropical Storm Alberto drove north through the Gulf of Mexico, threatening heavy rains and winds to the southern coastal states.
"If you are planning to travel on Monday (Memorial Day) the combination of severe weather and heavy traffic conditions could prove hazardous".
Strong storms possible Thursday and Friday: As Alberto moves away, a different type of summertime weather pattern kicks in; that could deliver some intense summertime storms on Thursday and Friday. The NHC canceled a tropical storm warning west of the Alabama/Florida border.
Rain was in the forecast for the Orlando area as subtropical storm Alberto approached the Florida Panhandle Monday morning.
Little change in strength is forecast before Alberto reaches the northern Gulf Coast.
"The potential for flash flooding, mudslides and landslides will be very high in the [North Carolina] mountains", Panovich said.
Janet Rhumes said her group of friends from Kansas had been planning their Memorial Day weekend on Navarre Beach since October, and no tropical storm could deter them.
Bay County emergency management officials held a news briefing Sunday, and said that due to tides and when the storm is expected to hit, any surge isn't a major concern.
Flash flood watches have been posted for much of Florida, and along the Gulf Coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and southwest Georgia.
"Hazardous storm surge is possible along portions of the central and eastern Gulf Coast beginning Sunday".
The early storm doesn't necessarily mean this year's hurricane season will be as busy as last year's, though.