Tropical Storm Alberto Forms over Western Gulf of Mexico

Tropical Storm Alberto formed over the western Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday morning.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Storm Alberto was located at latitude 22.2°N and longitude 95.0°W which put it about 185 miles (300 km) east of Tampico, Mexico and about 295 miles (480 km) south-southeast of Brownsville, Texas.  Alberto was moving toward the west at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).   The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 995 mb.

More thunderstorms formed near the center of a low pressure system previously designated as Potential Tropical Cyclone One on Wednesday morning.  A U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance aircraft was able to locate a well defined low level center of circulation and the U.S. National Hurricane Center designated the system as Tropical Storm Alberto.

The structure of Tropical Storm Alberto was beginning to resemble a typical tropical storm.  Thunderstorms were forming near the center of Alberto’s circulation.  A band of thunderstorms wrapped around the southern and eastern side of Tropical Storm Alberto.  Other bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the center of Alberto’s circulation.  Storms near the center of Alberto began to generate upper level divergence that pumped mass away from the tropical storm.  The removal of mass was causing the surface pressure to decrease.

Even though Tropical Storm Alberto was starting to look like a tropical storm, the distribution of winds was still asymmetrical.  The circulation around the northern side of Alberto’s circulation was interacting with the southern part of a strong high pressure system over the eastern U.S.  The interaction of the two pressure systems was causing the strongest winds to occur in the northern side of Tropical Storm Alberto.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out 400 miles (645 km) north of the center of Alberto’s circulation.  An anemometer at Garden Banks 783 (KGBK) measured a sustained wind speed of 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and wind gusts of 50 m.p.h (80 km/h).  The anemometer is at a height of 58.2 meters above sea level.  The winds in the southern part of Alberto’s circulation were blowing at less than tropical storm force.

Tropical Storm Alberto will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 12 hours. Alberto will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperatures are near 30°C.  It will move under the the center of an upper level ridge over the western Gulf of Mexico.  The upper level winds are weak near the center of the ridge and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Storm Alberto will intensify during the next 12 hours.  Alberto could undergo a brief period of rapid intensification when it approaches the coast of Mexico.

Tropical Storm Alberto will move south of a strong high pressure system over the eastern U.S.  The high pressure system will steer Alberto toward the west during the next 24 hours.  On its anticipated track, Tropical Storm Alberto will make landfall on the coast of northern Mexico on Wednesday night.  The center of Alberto will make landfall near Tampico, Mexico.