Alberto: A Hydrometeorological Nightmare
Garza, Carlos, Jr.
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The year 1994 was an enigma of sorts as far as tropical activity is concerned. While the summer season yielded only three hurricanes, several tropical systems were spawned that produced disastrous results over the southeastern part of the U.S. Tropical Storm Alberto will go down in history as a system that was considered a "weak" tropical storm. However, it was "very strong" as far as floodproducers go. More than 16 inches of rain were experienced over a large area in south Georgia. And there were small areas that received storm totals of well over 25 inches of rain (for example, Americas, Georgia recorded a storm total of nearly 27 inches). When all was said and done, one third of Georgia and about one-sixth of Alabama received over 7 inches of rain from Alberto. The meteorological conditions surrounding Alberto were not unusual. However, as the storm approached land, minor changes in the upper atmosphere caused the system to move more slowly, and even reverse its course, before eventually moving completely out of the southeast. The path of the storm, the basins traversed, and the wetness of the area before the storm, all acted together to contribute to one of the largest floods in Georgia history. Northwest Florida and southeast Alabama also experienced similar flooding conditions. Because of the magnitude of Alberto's devastation in southeast, it will be many years before a complete analysis is done. However, this presentation should serve to provide food for thought while giving an overview of the event.