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Subtropical Storm Alberto Kills News Anchor, Photojournalist in North Carolina

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Alberto Weakens, Heavy Rain Threat Continues

Meteorologist Domenica Davis shows us the latest on now Subtropical Depression Alberto as it has weakened but still leaves a heavy rain threat. 

Story Highlights

Subtropical Storm Alberto made landfall in the Florida Panhandle Monday.

A news anchor and photojournalist were killed by a falling tree while covering the storm in North Carolina.

Nearly 20,000 homes and businesses lost power in Alabama because of the storm.

A news anchor and photojournalist covering Subtropical Storm Alberto were killed Monday when a tree collapsed on top of their vehicle, authorities said.

WYFF-TV’s Mike McCormick and Aaron Smeltzer were reporting on the rain’s impact in Polk County, North Carolina, when the incident occurred on Highway 176, the station reported. McCormick joined the news outlet as a reporter in April 2007 and became an anchor in 2017, while Smeltzer shot news for the outlet’s Spartanburg bureau for over a decade. 

The duo had just finished interviewing Tryon Fire Chief Geoffrey Tennant, who urged them to be careful with the remnant weather of the storm, according to the Associated Press.

“Ten minutes later we get the call and it was them,” Tennant told reporters in an emotional announcement.

(MORE: What Remains of Alberto)

Four days ahead of the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, Alberto announced itself with heavy rains and strong winds Monday in the western portion of the Florida Panhandle, where it made landfall in the afternoon.

The storm disrupted long Memorial Day holiday weekend plans along from Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle to Miami Beach and other areas along the northern Gulf Coast, forced beachgoers out of the water and prompted evacuations of low-lying areas.

“Most of the issues we’re having right now are downed trees and downed limbs,” Walton County spokesman Louis Svehla told the Northwest Florida Daily News, as reported by the AP. “Our beaches did good. There was not a lot of erosion. The surge was not that large.”

Organizers were forced to cancel multiple events commemorating the holiday in Florida, ABC 7 Sarasota reported.

Emergency officials North Carolina expressed concerns about heavy rains in the mountainous areas Monday, warning flash flooding and dangerous landslides could occur through at least Wednesday, the AP said.

(MORE: This Can Be Your Worst Enemy in a Flash Flood)

Lifeguards posted red flags along the white sands of Pensacola Beach, where swimming and wading were banned amid high surf and dangerous conditions. Six people were rescued from strong currents created by Alberto near southern Alabama’s Orange Beach, near Pensacola, early Sunday, according to WPMI-TV.

Harsh conditions from the storm stirred up big waves off the Gulf Coast’s eastern and northern region, prompting officials to warn people about life-threatening rip currents and swells, AP reports. Swimmers have been urged to stay out of the water through Tuesday.

Destin Executive Airport was closed from Monday afternoon until 8 a.m. Tuesday because of the storm, Okaloosa County announced on Twitter. Over 20,000 homes and businesses were left in the dark Tuesday morning, and another 13,000 customers lost power in Florida on Monday, according to PowerOutage.us.

Mandatory evacuations were issued for Franklin County’s barrier islands and anybody living on the coastline in mobile homes and recreational vehicle parks. The county of more than 11,700 is about 70 miles south of Panama City.

Alberto got an early jump on the 2018 hurricane season, which doesn’t officially start until Friday. The storm prompted Florida, Alabama and Mississippi to declare states of emergency over the weekend.

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