Floodwaters tear through town near Baltimore as Deep South braces for Alberto

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Flash floods tore through a city in Maryland on Sunday, as the Deep South braced for the first storm of hurricane season.

Floodwaters roared through the streets of downtown Ellicott City, Md., just west of Baltimore, after torrential rain and thunderstorm warnings. Two people were killed in the same city by devastating flooding in 2016.

“This is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC situation,” the National Weather Service tweeted, urging residents to seek higher ground. No deaths or injuries had yet been reported, though the local fire department tweeted “Rescuers are in the water making rescues.”

Meanwhile, the governors of Florida, Mississippi and Alabama declared states of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Alberto. The storm is expected to make landfall over the Florida Panhandle on Monday.

The National Hurricane Center said Friday that heavy rain and flooding is expected in western Cuba, the Florida Keys and south Florida, with 10 to 15 inches of rain in some places.

“The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded,” the National Hurricane Center said, warning also of a tornado risk in southwestern Florida.

Wind warnings were in effect as far west as New Orleans, where residents were encouraged to “stay prepared and informed.”

Alberto is the first named storm of this year’s hurricane season, which doesn’t even officially start until June 1. Last week, hurricane researchers predicted at least 14 named storms this year, compared to the average of 11 per year since 1950.