Tropical Storm Claudette hit parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida with high winds on Saturday, ripping roofs off homes and knocking over an 18-wheeler and mobile home. Several tornadoes were reported from the storm.
Claudette made landfall in southeast Louisiana just before 7 a.m. on Saturday as heavy rains and tropical storm force winds – at least 39 mph – continued along parts of the northern coast of the Gulf, forcing the cancellation of the Juneteenth and Father’s Day celebrations, according to the National Hurricane Center. The weather service said at 10:00 am CT that tropical storm force winds are expected to continue along parts of the Gulf Coast for a few more hours.
The storm is expected to produce heavy rains of 5 to 10 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches over parts of the central Gulf Coast and potentially fatal flash floods on the Mississippi and Alabama coasts, as well as in the far west of Florida. the weather service said. Flash floods, urban and small streams are expected continue all weekend along the central gulf coast with flooding spreading northeast into the interior of the southeast.
Tornado warnings and watches have been issued for parts of Alabama, Mississippi, the Florida panhandle and southwestern Georgia. A tornado was confirmed near Blakely, Ga. At 1:38 p.m. ET and was moving north at 30 mph, according to NWS Tallahassee.
In addition to floods and tornadoes, there is a high risk of return currents and high waves on beaches in affected areas near the coasts of the Gulf Coast.
A tropical storm watch was issued Saturday morning for parts of the North Carolina coast which may experience tropical storm conditions Sunday evening and Monday.
Claudette is expected to weaken to a tropical depression later Saturday before reverting to a tropical storm when it passes through the Carolinas on Sunday evening or early Monday.
Past coverage:Tropical Storm Claudette is forming and threatening to cause dangerous flooding on Gulf Coast
In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Thursday and state resources offered to aid in storm response efforts. Louisiana was also hit hard by heavy rains and flooding last month when spring storms were responsible for several deaths.
Residents of Slidell, Louisiana have reported flooded streets. Slidell Police said in a Facebook post that the flooding receded largely by dawn, after flooding up to 50 cars and trucks with water and causing multiple rescues of flooded cars, including the rescue of a woman “on her way to the hospital, possibly giving birth.”
In Florida, the Pensacola area braced for heavy rain early Saturday morning with Escambia and Santa Rosa counties subject to tropical storm and flash flood warnings.
An 18-wheeled vehicle struck several utility poles and rolled onto its side during 85 mph winds early Saturday in Florida, causing freeway lanes to be closed, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Debris from the crash, including a collapsed utility pole, struck a passing SUV.
Residents of Pace, Florida called 911 to report a possible tornado that ripped roofs off two homes and damaged at least three others.
“No one is injured,” said Sarah Whitfield, spokesperson for Santa Rosa County, where homes in Florida were damaged. “We’re just thankful that it happened after sunrise,” not overnight while people were sleeping.
Possible tornadoes in Alabama damaged a fishing pier and overturned a mobile home, said Jason Beaman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile.
“We have small gusts passing. It’s going to rain really, really hard for a few minutes and then relax for a few minutes, ”said Glen Brannan of the Mobile County, Alabama, emergency management agency early Saturday. “Just a lot of water on the roads.”
The weather system began as a large area of low pressure in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. This is the third storm of the 2021 season that started this month.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted that 13 to 20 named storms will develop this season. This number includes tropical storms, which contain wind speeds of 39 mph or more. Storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph.
To prepare for a possible tropical storm, experts recommend restocking disaster kits to have medicine and at least seven days of non-perishable food and three gallons of water for each person and pet. You can also prepare your garden by removing loose objects, cleaning out loose and clogged rain gutters, and pruning trees and shrubs.
Contributing: The Associated Press; Diane Pantaleo and staff, Pensacola News Journal.