for National Geographic News
Tropical storm Alberto, once on the verge of becoming the 2006 season's first hurricane, made landfall in Florida today after losing some of its punch overnight.
The center of the storm came ashore with winds of 50 miles (81 kilometers) an hour shortly before noon, eastern time, at Cedar Key, a small island town just off Florida's Big Bend. This area includes the state's northwestern coast where it curves westward to become the Florida Panhandle (Florida map).
The storm caused some flooding as it approached and crossed Cedar Key, an island community of about a thousand people that is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north-northwest of Tampa.
Meteorologist John Cangialosi at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Alberto would cause heavy rainfall as it moved through Georgia.
As of noon today the storm was moving northeast at 9 miles (15 kilometers) an hour.
The storm will continue to weaken as it moves inland, but it probably will bring 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain to Waycross, Albany, Macon, and other cities in southern and central Georgia, he said.
The remnants of Alberto are expected to move back into the Atlantic Ocean sometime Wednesday or Thursday, Cangialosi said. Forecasters aren't sure, however, where the storm system will go back to sea.
"That's a tricky one," Cangialosi said of predicting where Alberto will go from Georgia.
"It's difficult to forecast where it will emerge. The forecast is for somewhere between the South Carolina coast to the North Carolina-Virginia border."
Alberto had achieved winds of about 70 miles (113 kilometers) an hour late Monday morning after passing across the Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current, which typically has warmer water than the surrounding seas.
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