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Subtropical Storm Alberto has gained an early jump on the 2018 hurricane season, heading toward expected landfall sometime Monday on the northern Gulf Coast, prompting thousands to evacuate.

The storm is the first storm of this year's hurricane season, coming a few day before the season officially starts on June 1. But this is nature.

The counterclockwise spin of Alberto and the clockwise rotation of a high-pressure system in the Atlantic are combining to bring moisture northward into the Triangle, said Kathleen Carroll, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Raleigh.

The moisture pouring northward coincides with Subtropical Storm Alberto, which approached the Florida Panhandle from the Gulf on Monday morning with sustained winds of up to 65 miles per hour.

Alberto, the first named Atlantic storm of 2018 which spun up days before the formal start of the hurricane season, is forecast to pack maximum sustained winds near 50 miles per hour (85 kph) and dump as much as 12 inches (30 cm) of rain, slamming an area from MS to western Georgia, it said. The storm prompted Florida, Alabama and MS to launch emergency preparations over the weekend.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for Crystal River to Navarre, Florida. Just because it's "nice and sunny" after the storm passes, Medlin says there's still a risk for swimmers.

Our weather today will have periods of rain, some will be heavy at times.

Rick Scott (R) also declared a state of emergency in all of the state's 67 counties on Saturday. Alberto's heavy rains and and gusty winds remain predominantly on the right side of the storm, and therefore heavy rain and some gusty winds are expected across much of Florida Sunday.

Pasco County is now under a Tropical Storm Warning.

At the moment its growth is being hindered by strong winds in the upper atmosphere, but as the storm tracks northwards these winds are expected to ease, allowing the storm to complete its transition into a fully tropical system. Onshore areas along the coast also account for about 45 percent of US refining capacity and 51 percent of gas processing.

Are Alberto and Lee the only two subtropical storms to hit the U.S.? Subtropical storms can develop into tropical storms, which in turn can strengthen into hurricanes.

The rain will continue from Monday evening, overnight, into Tuesday morning. Warnings about storm surges and high surf were aired along the coast on either side of Apalachicola on Monday.

The early storm doesn't necessarily mean it will be a busier-than-usual hurricane season though.