(Reuters) - Alberto, the first storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, spawned scattered flooding in Alabama as it weakened into a subtropical depression on Tuesday, a day after two journalists were killed in North Carolina when a tree fell on their car.
In Maryland, searchers on Monday found the body of a man swept away when a flash flood triggered by a separate storm tore through the main street of a historic town.
Near hurricane-force winds from Alberto dropped to about 30 miles per hour (48 km per hour) as it lost strength while crossing the Gulf of Mexico and making landfall in the U.S. South, the National Weather Service said.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) canceled coastal warnings and watches for the storm, which spun up days before the formal start of the hurricane season on June 1.
Local media in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle reported scattered flash flooding, downed trees and minor power outages as Alberto rumbled north. About half of Alabama’s 67 counties were under a flash flood watch.
Alberto was forecast to weaken to a “remnant low pressure” system by Tuesday evening as it moves into the Tennessee Valley and then the Ohio Valley, the weather service said.
The NHC warned the storm would dump rains of 2-6 inches (6-15 cm), with up to 12 inches over north Florida and Alabama through Tuesday night. It could deliver up to 6 inches of rain in some areas as it moves toward lower Michigan by Wednesday evening, officials said.
Karen Clark & Co, a risk-modeling firm, on Tuesday estimated the insured losses from Alberto at $50 million.
In Maryland, searchers found the body of Eddison Hermond, 39, who was swept away by a torrent of water in historic Ellicott City on Sunday, the Howard County Police Department said on Twitter.
Hermond was swept up as he tried to help a shop owner who had escaped flood waters with her cat, police said. The flooding was the second time Ellicott City had been devastated by high water in two years.
Two television journalists covering the worsening weather in North Carolina were killed on Monday by a falling tree that struck their car. Anchor Mike McCormick and camera operator Aaron Smeltzer from Greenville, South Carolina’s, WYFF News were on Highway 176 when the tree came down after heavy rains saturated the ground, police said.
After Alberto’s passage, Royal Dutch Shell Plc was sending workers back to the eastern Gulf of Mexico and Chevron Corp restored some production on Monday.
Four deadly hurricanes struck the United States last year, killing at least 144 people and causing billions of dollars in damage, massive power outages and devastating hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, according to the NHC.
Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Ian Simpson in Washington; Additional reporting by Ian Simpson and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Scott Malone, Jeffrey Benkoe and Tom Brown
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