MIAMI (Reuters) - Small and weak Tropical Storm Alberto turned away from the U.S. coast on Monday and was mainly a threat to beachgoers along the Atlantic shore from northeast Florida to South Carolina, forecasters said.
Alberto was centered about 180 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. It was headed east away from the U.S. coast and was forecast to turn to the northeast on a track that would keep it well away from land.
With top sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 km per hour), Alberto was just barely a tropical storm. Forecasters said its strength had likely peaked and it was expected to weaken and dissipate over the next couple of days.
The storm, which brought heavy rain to part of the South Carolina coast overnight, was still roiling coastal waters and could endanger swimmers, forecasters cautioned.
"Dangerous surf conditions, including rip currents, are possible along the coasts of northeastern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina today," they said.
Alberto formed off the South Carolina coast on Saturday, bringing an early start to the Atlantic Hurricane season that officially runs from June 1 to November 30.
It was the earliest tropical storm in the Atlantic since 2003, when Tropical Storm Ana formed more than five weeks before the official start of the season, the hurricane center said.
(Reporting By Jane Sutton)