Alberto Nears Florida

Alberto Nears Florida

Tropical storm Alberto, the first  named storm of the 2006 Atlantic Hurricane season, gained strength early this morning as it drifted  through the Gulf Of Mexico. Its path should take it to the Florida Gulf Coast by Tuesday.

Alberto is unlikely to reach hurricane strength, but could dump 5 to 10 inches of rain on Florida's west coast.

The prospect of a wet storm without hurricane-force wind was welcomed by firefighters who have been battling wildfires for six weeks on Florida's east coast.

Still, many people are more prepared than they have been in years past.

Last year's hurricane season was the most destructive on record. Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Mississippi and was blamed for more than 1,570 deaths among Louisiana residents alone.

This year, however, meteorologists have said the Atlantic is not as warm as it was at this time in 2005, meaning potential storms would have less of the energy needed to develop into hurricanes.