Tropical Storm Claudette threatens flash floods, tornadoes in Gulf Coast from Mississippi to Florida

Tropical Storm Claudette drenched coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with heavy rain as it moved inland early Saturday, threatening flash floods, high winds and possible tornadoes.

By 4 am. CT Saturday, the National Hurricane Center declared Claudette a tropical storm. Around that time, it was centered southwest of New Orleans with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and plodding northeast at 12 mph.

Claudette made landfall in southeast Louisiana just before 7 a.m. CT Saturday as heavy rains and tropical storm-force winds — at least 39 mph — continued along parts of the northern Gulf Coast, forcing cancellations of Juneteenth and Father’s Day celebrations, according to the National Hurricane Center. The weather service announced at 10 a.m. CT that tropical storm-force winds are expected to continue along portions of the Gulf Coast for a few more hours.

Clouds from Tropical Storm Claudette form on Highway 90 Beaches in Pass Christian, Miss., Friday, June 18, 2021. City of Pass Christian has declared state of emergency for potential severe weather. (Photo: Hunter Dawkins, AP)

The storm is expected to produce heavy rain of 5 to 10 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches across portions of the Central Gulf Coast and life-threatening flash floods across coastal Mississippi and Alabama, as well as the far western Florida Panhandle, the weather service said. Considerable flash, urban and small stream flooding is expected to continue through the weekend along the central Gulf Coast with floods spreading northeastward into the interior Southeast.

A tropical storm watch was issued Saturday morning for portions of the North Carolina coast, which may see tropical storm conditions Sunday night and Monday.

Tornado warnings were issued from the Mississippi coast to the western Florida panhandle with a tornado watch for parts of Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle. Along with flooding and tornadoes, there is a high risk of rip currents and high surf at beaches in affected areas near Gulf Coast shores.

Roughly 13,000 outages total across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, according to poweroutage.us.

Past Coverage:Tropical Storm Claudette forms, threatens to bring dangerous flooding to Gulf Coast

In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Thursday and offered state resources to aid in storm response efforts. Louisiana, which was hit hard by heavy rain and flooding last month when spring storms were blamed for multiple deaths, may be bombarded with up to 20 inches of rain over three days.

Residents of Slidell, Louisiana, reported flooded streets. Slidell police said in a Facebook post that the flooding had largely receded by daybreak, after swamping as many as 50 cars and trucks with water and prompting multiple rescues from flooded cars, including the rescue of a woman “who was on her way to the hospital, possibly going into labor.”

In Florida, the Pensacola area braced for heavy rain early Saturday morning with Escambia and Santa Rosa counties under tropical storm and flash flood warnings. As beaches close and utility companies warn of potential power outages, the area may be soaked in as much as 12 inches of rainfall beginning through the weekend.

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