Subtropical Storm Alberto knocked out power for more than 400 customers in Walton County on Memorial Day, and officials there and in Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties on late Monday afternoon continued to warn people to stay out of the Gulf because of storm-caused rip currents.
The center of the storm made landfall near Laguna Beach in Bay County at about 3:45 p.m. Monday with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. The storm was moving north at 9 mph.
Alberto dumped about 3 to 5 inches of rain over a six-hour period on east Okaloosa and south Walton counties, said Ryan Rogers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama.
Rainfall and gusty winds from the storm is expected to continue overnight into Tuesday for much of the Panhandle, with some areas potentially seeing 2-3 more inches of rain, he said.
A flash flood watch is in effect for Northwest Florida until 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Rogers said some of Alberto’s rain bands extend to about 80-90 miles from the storm's center.
“The threat of dangerous rip currents will remain in the high category through at least through Tuesday,” he said. “We seem to lose one or two people to rip currents after the storm is passed, (when) the sun is out, but the rip current threat has not come down yet.”
Officials from Walton, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties said they were not aware of anyone needed to be rescued from rip currents, but double red flags were still flying at local beaches late Monday afternoon.
“Most of the issues we’re having right now are downed trees and downed limbs,” Walton County spokesman Louis Svehla said.
Earlier on Monday, about 475 customers had lost electricity, he said. By about 4:30 p.m., the number still without power had fallen to 169.
Svehla said low-lying areas experienced some minor flooding, and a few roads were closed.
“Our beaches did good,” he said. “There was not a lot of erosion. The (storm) surge was not that large.”
No major storm-caused problems were reported in Okaloosa County, county spokesman Christopher Saul said. There were a small number of power outages, he said.
At the beaches, “We put double-red flags into forcible effect and I don’t believe anyone has been getting into the water," Saul said.
He said officials also are keeping an eye on local rivers.
“Nothing has crested over the flood stage, so we’re feeling pretty fortunate right now,” Saul said.
Santa Rosa County also did not have any major problems from Alberto as of late Monday afternoon, spokeswoman Brandi Whitehurst said.
County officials put out many piles of sand several days ago in case people wanted to mitigate any flooding in their homes, she said.
“Now, they’re better prepared for hurricane season,” which officially starts Friday, Whitehurst said. “What Alberto has done for us is to have people dust off their hurricane plans and stock up on supplies.”