With under two weeks to go until hurricane season officially begins, the first named storm has formed off the coast of South Carolina. As of 4 pm CDT, Alberto is located 140 mi. east, southeast of Charleston. This is a fairly tight but weak circulation, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph; Alberto is drifting southwest at 2 mph. The storm is expected to drift toward Myrtle Beach before being pushed back up the coast over the next few days. A tropical storm watch may be issued for portions of the South Carolina coast later tonight.
Earlier this week, the Pacific hurricane season kicked off with the first named storm, Aletta, forming one day before the official May 15th start. So you're probably wondering if any early season storm means anything for the rest of the season. The answer is an unambiguous "maybe".
The earliest tropical storm formed Groundhog Day 1952. However, in recent years, early storms have seemingly become more common. In 2003, Ana formed in late April. That season produced Tropical Storm Grace which drenched southeast Texas and Hurricane Isabel along the East Coast. From 2007-2009 a storm formed every May; the average total storms in those years was 12, including 2008's Ike.
The fact that Alberto spun up so quickly, though, is a reminder that a storm can form anytime when conditions are right. Here in the Gulf coast, we should be ready and watchful.