MIAMI: Subtropical storm Alberto, the first named storm of the season, has made landfall in the US state of Florida, bringing with it heavy rains and strong winds, weather officials said.
Emergency management officials in Florida said the storm struck Laguna Beach just before 5 p.m. on Monday with wind speeds of about 45 miles per hour, reports The New York Times.
An array of mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for parts of Franklin, Gulf and Walton Counties.
Governor Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency in all of Florida's 67 counties.
"Remember, the track of these storms can change without notice," he said in a statement earlier Monday.
"Everyone in our state must be prepared."
Forecasters said they expect the Florida Panhandle (an unofficial term for the northwestern part of the state) as well as parts of eastern and central Alabama and western Georgia to get between four and eight inches of rain through Tuesday, with some isolated areas getting as much as a foot.
They also warned that flash flooding was possible in Florida, much of Alabama, and western Georgia.
Storm surge in Florida could cause water to rise as high as three feet from the Aucilla River to Mexico Beach. Isolated tornadoes were also possible over parts of Georgia and southeast Alabama, The New York Times quoted the forecasters as saying.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 until November 1 and peaks from mid-August through late October.
Last year, there were 17 named storms, 10 of which became hurricanes; the first named storm was Arlene - a rare pre-season tropical storm that arrived in April.