August 2, 2021
Posted: June 20, 2021 9:18 am
The Gulf Coast is the site of the first named tropical system of the year to directly impact the US. Tropical Storm Claudette formed early Saturday morning before making landfall near New Orleans. By mid-day Saturday, Claudette was packing maximum sustained winds of 40 mph moving to the north and northeast away from New Orleans.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) named the system Potential Tropical Cyclone Three late Thursday afternoon. From there, the system continued to intensify as it churned through the Gulf of Mexico headed to the US coastline. The feature developed into Tropical Storm Claudette by 4 AM local time on Saturday.
At the time that the feature intensified into a tropical storm, it was boasting maximum wind speeds of 45 mph. This put it well over the 39 mph designation of a tropical storm. Winds began to pick up along the Mississippi coastline by Friday evening, causing residents to take cover and move boats and other vulnerable valuables to safety.
As it moved on to shore, Claudette also brought the risk of tornadoes. A series of tornado warnings were issued early Saturday throughout Alabama and the Florida Panhandle as Claudette plowed through the region. A possible tornado touched down in East Brewton, Alabama, at around 8:15 AM local time. While there were no injuries reported as a result of the twister, debris was picked up and scattered across the town with some reports of damage.
The primary concern coming out of Claudette is the threat of heavy rain. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency declaration on Thursday prior to the storm’s arrival. The western portion of the state has been inundated with rain in recent weeks. In addition, areas of Louisiana such as Lake Charles have still not recovered from the damage brought by the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season.
Claudette has already dumped over four inches of rain to some parts of southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. In anticipation of the storm, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency provided 90,000 sandbags to residents to encourage them to do their part to direct floodwaters away from homes and other businesses.
Forecasters warn that a foot of rain may fall in some areas of the Southeast as Claudette continues its north to northeast track. The system is predicted to begin to lose wind intensity and will likely be a tropical rainstorm.
Rainfall amounts will range between two to four inches in Georgia and the Carolinas by the end of the weekend.
Claudette is expected to move off of the coast of North Carolina by Monday, sliding into the Atlantic Ocean. Because the current ocean water temperature off the coast of North Carolina is in the low to mid-80s, Claudette will be provided with favorable conditions to strengthen once again.
It is not out of the realm of possibility that Claudette will strengthen into a tropical storm again by Tuesday morning. If this intensification happens, the mid-Atlantic coastline may be under the gun for rip currents, minor coastal flooding, and rough surf as the storm skirts the coast.
As a result of the uncertainty of Claudette as it moves back into the warm ocean waters, tropical storm watches are in effect for parts of the North Carolina coast. The storm will likely continue to move northeastward throughout the week. The feature is expected to break up as it moves into the cooler waters in the northern Atlantic Ocean.
Claudette is already the third tropical storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Tropical Storm Ana formed in May with Tropical Storm Bill hitting in June. The next names on the list of Atlantic basin storms are Danny and Elsa.
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