Tropical storm watch issued for Alberto, first tropical storm of the year

This National Hurricane Center map shows the projected path of Alberto.

The first tropical storm of the season arrived early this year and is swirling off the coast of South Carolina, but that doesn’t predict an active hurricane season, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Tropical Storm Alberto was located about 110 miles southeast of Charleston early this morning, with sustained winds of 50 mph. It was moving toward the southwest about 3 mph. A turn toward the northeast is expected by Monday.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for the South Carolina coast from the Savannah River to the South Santee River. A watch means that storm conditions are possible in the area within 24 hours.

The storm’s effect on the Charleston coast will be minimal unless it intensifies, said Mike Emlaw, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Alberto probably won’t make landfall, but it could stir up some wind late Sunday night and into Monday, he said.

If the storm moves as predicted, “it will be a breezy time” near the coast in northern Charleston County, Emlaw said.

Wind gusts along that part of the coast could reach 30 mph, he said. People who live in the area may want to secure items that could blow away.

National Weather Service meteorologist Sandy LaCorte in Wilmington said the center of the storm is not expected to get close to the Carolinas’ coast.

LaCorte said Alberto will produce increased waves at Carolina beaches with a high risk of rip currents along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and a moderate risk along the entire South Carolina coast.

The weather service predicts isolated and scattered rain showers along the coast of the Carolinas into early next week.

Hurricane season officially starts June 1, so Alberto arrived early. But an early tropical storm doesn’t predict a busy hurricane season, Emlaw said. It isn’t rare for a tropical storm to form in May.