Claudette Downgraded To Tropical Depression, Will Strengthen As It Nears East Coast
Updated June 20, 2021 at 8:19 PM ET
Tropical Storm Claudette was downgraded to a tropical depression after battering the Southeast over the weekend. Heavy rains, high winds and flash flooding contributed to the deaths of 13 people in Alabama Saturday, and while the storm has weakened, it is expected to regain strength as it makes its way toward the East Coast.
For the time being, wind speeds remain relatively low, peaking around 30 mph. But Claudette is expected to intensify, regaining strength and reaching tropical storm status late Sunday or early Monday morning. Tropical storm conditions are expected along parts of the North Carolina coast and a tropical storm watch is in effect in northeastern South Carolina.
The National Hurricane Center is advising residents in southern Georgia, northern Florida and the Carolinas to prepare for torrential rain and flooding —and possibly tornadoes — through Monday morning. The storm is expected to bring as much as 6 inches of rain to parts of the Southeast. Rising water levels present a larger threat. Storm surge levels could reach as high as 3 feet as winds force the water away from the storm.
"As the large circulation of Claudette moves off of the southeastern United States coast later today and tonight, winds will increase along and offshore of the coast, and the system is expected to regain tropical-storm status by Monday morning," the NHC said. "Additional re-strengthening is forecast on Monday and Monday night while the cyclone moves over the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream."
Claudette originated in the Gulf of Mexico last week before making landfall Saturday. Some areas experienced over a foot of rain as the storm pummeled the region Saturday.
The Associated Press reported that a 15-vehicle crash just south of Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday left 10 people dead, including nine children. In a separate incident, a 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy were killed outside of Tuscaloosa when a tree fell on their house. A 23-year-old woman from Fort Payne also died on Saturday after her car went off the road into a rain-swollen creek, a DeKalb County deputy coroner told WHNT-TV.
The NHC is projecting the storm will become a post-tropical cyclone by late Tuesday as it makes its way out to sea. Claudette is the third named storm of the year for the Atlantic hurricane season, which traditionally runs from June 1 through the end of November. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an above-average hurricane season for 2021, with 13-20 possible named storms.
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