Awesome Alberto turns into "a nice warm-up"

Alberto splashed ashore in Florida without its once-feared punch, and weakened early Wednesday over South Carolina from a tropical storm to a tropical depression. All tropical storm warnings were discontinued, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm was expected to lose all characteristics later in the day, though possibly could strengthen again.

Forecasters said the center of circulation would track into the Carolinas from Georgia, pushing nasty weather ahead of it. Storm winds gusting over 40 mph (64 kph) began moving into South Carolina late Tuesday, knocking down trees and power lines in three counties.

After last year's 28 named storms and record 15 hurricanes, Tropical Storm Alberto caused a brief scare and prompted a call for more than 20,000 people to evacuate Florida's Gulf Coast. But no serious injuries or deaths were reported.