Alberto Becomes First Named Storm of 2018, Targets Gulf Coast

Credit: National Hurricane Center (click for forecast from NHC)

By Brian K. Sullivan (Bloomberg) — Meet Alberto, the first named storm of 2018.

The sub-tropical storm off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is expected to bring heavy rain to western Cuba and much of Florida early next week, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Friday.

Alberto will probably have little impact on Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas platforms as it scrapes by the production region, headed toward landfall early next week bringing needed rain to crops in the Mississippi River valley. Sub-tropical storms lack the complete structure needed to become classical tropical storms.

“There’s not enough time for it to have a significant impact,” said Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. “It is short lived, making landfall Monday or early Tuesday. And it is going to be a low-end tropical storm.”

The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1 and storms in the Gulf are closely watched because 5 percent of U.S. natural gas and 17 percent of crude oil production comes out of the region, according to the Energy Information Administration. In addition, onshore areas along the coastline account for about 45 percent of U.S. refining capacity and 51 percent of gas processing.

Models track the potential storm north across the Gulf, bringing it into the coastline somewhere between Mobile Bay in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle region, Steve Silver, a meteorologist with Radiant Solutions in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said by telephone. On that path it won’t have “a major impact.”

Heavy rain will fall across Alabama, Georgia and Florida, which could cause some flooding in cotton and peanut fields in the region, but overall the storm will probably help farmers to the north and west, said Dale Mohler, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P