UPDATE (5 p.m. Sunday): The worst may be over, and it wasn't really all that bad. Tropical Storm warnings associated with Alberto, the first named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season, have been lifted and are not expected to be reinstated.
An Air Force Reserve aircraft flew into Alberto Sunday afternoon. It is churning 130 miles south of Charleston and 105 miles southeast of Savannah. Its maximum wind speed is 45 mph.
The storm will slow and drift further south overnight. Forecasters believe it will accelerate on Monday and Tuesday and move north, but it won't be as close to the South Carolina and Georgia coast on this second pass.
"On this track, the center of Alberto is expected to stay off the Georgia and Carolina Coasts," a National Hurricane Center forecaster wrote.
UPDATE (2 p.m. Sunday): A Hurricane Hunter aircraft has been launched to make observations of Tropical Storm Alberto today, according to the National Weather Service forecast.
Little has changed trhoughout the day for the slow-moving tropical storm. It is about 110 miles south of Charleston and 90 miles from Savannah, according to the latest National Hurricane Center forecast.
The National Weather Service Charleston said usual low-lying areas will experience slight saltwater flooding this evening. A tropical storm watch remains in place until Monday.
UPDATE (11 a.m. Sunday): Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, is 90 miles south of Charleston and 90 miles from Savannah, according to the latest bulletin from the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is moving at about 6 mph in a southwesterly direction, and it may slow today, forecasts indicate. It is expected to change direction and move to the northeast Monday night into Tuesday. There is little threat of it moving to land.
UPDATE (8 a.m. Sunday): Tropical Storm Alberto is roughly 95 miles off the Coast of South Carolina and 115 miles north of Savannah, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
A tropical storm watch is in place for all residents from just south of Georgetown to Savannah. The watch is in place for 24 hours. It simply means conditions are right for rain, wind and high surf.
The storm is currently producing wind speeds of 50 mph, the Hurricane Center reports. It is expected to continue a southwest direction through Sunday and then turn north on Monday. It is not expected to ever reach hurricane strength.
The original story is as follows:
The National Hurricane Center has identified the first storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Tropical Storm Alberto churns Saturday evening about 140 miles off the coast of South Carolina.
Though it marks an early start to the hurricane season, the storm's center is not expected to make landfall here. It will, however, move closer to the coast on Sunday as it moves in a southern direction.
The storm is expected to turn north and head toward the northeast U.S. by Wednesday, but even then its forecasted path is not expected to make landfall, according to National Hurricane Center.
Saturday evening, the storm had sustained wind speeds of 60 mph. The storm is producing strong surf on local beaches, and there may be a tropical storm watch in place by this evening.
Hurricane season officially begins June 1, though Alberto formed 13 days ahead of time. The season will continue through November 30.
Just one storm, , skirted the South Carolina coast in 2011 causing millions of dollars in beach erosion. The real brunt of that hurricane was felt in the northeast where there was severe flooding.
Forecasts predict a less-active-than-normal hurricane season in 2012, roughly have as active as last year when there were 20 named storms. Colorado State University researchers predict four hurricanes in 2012 and 10 named storms.