ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Beaches in Florida were largely empty ahead of Memorial Day as the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, Subtropical Storm Alberto, approached the northern Gulf Coast carrying brisk winds and heavy rain.
The storm disrupted long holiday weekend plans from Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle to Miami Beach on Florida’s southeastern edge. Lifeguards posted red flags along the white sands of Pensacola Beach, where swimming and wading were banned amid high surf and dangerous conditions.
It also triggered mandatory evacuations of some small, sparsely populated Gulf Coast barrier islands in one Florida county. The Florida Division of Emergency Management said in a statement Sunday that a mandatory evacuation has been issued in Franklin County for all barrier islands there and those in the county living directly on the coast in mobile homes or in recreation vehicle parks.
Alberto got an early jump on the 2018 hurricane season, which doesn’t officially start until June 1. The storm prompted Florida, Alabama and Mississippi to launch emergency preparations over the weekend amid expectations Alberto would reach land sometime today. Rough conditions were expected to roil the sea.