Officials recommend evacuations in western NC ahead of storm

Posted May 25, 2018 5:23 p.m. EDT
Updated May 26, 2018 11:18 p.m. EDT

— Officials in a North Carolina county where a woman died in a mudslide are recommending voluntary evacuations of some areas as a subtropical storm threatens.

Emergency officials in Polk County said in a news release Friday that they're recommending that residents of some vulnerable areas evacuate by 5 p.m. Sunday. Storm conditions are expected to affect the county area Sunday night through early next week.

An American Red Cross shelter will be open to evacuees beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday at Polk County Middle School in Mill Spring.

Florida, Alabama and Mississippi also launched emergency preparations Saturday ahead of the arrival of Subtropical Storm Alberto, which was churning north towards the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to strengthen until it reaches the Florida Gulf Coast, likely on Monday night.

The storm's path shows it heading due north over the southeastern United States through the middle of next week.

At 11 p.m. EDT Saturday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Alberto was just off the western tip of Cuba and moving north-northeast at 13 mph (20 kph). The storm had top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and was expected to strengthen as it moves over the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

A subtropical storm like Alberto has a less defined and cooler center than a tropical storm, and its strongest winds are found farther from its center. Subtropical storms can develop into tropical storms, which in turn can strengthen into hurricanes.

About 5 to 10 inches (13-25 centimeters) of rain are possible along affected areas in eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, western Tennessee and the western Florida Panhandle. Isolated areas could see as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters).

Last week, a woman died when a mudslide crushed her home near the town of Tryon.

The county seat of Polk County, Columbus, is located about 85 miles west (137 kilometers) of Charlotte.