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Claudette to swipe U.S. Atlantic Coast, Canada after drenching Gulf

By
Courtney Travis, Accuweather.com
Claudette, the first named storm of the season, was downgraded to a tropical depression on Saturday afternoon but was forecast to become a tropical storm again Monday over eastern North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center. Image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Claudette, the first named storm of the season, was downgraded to a tropical depression on Saturday afternoon but was forecast to become a tropical storm again Monday over eastern North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center. Image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

June 20 (UPI) -- The third tropical storm of the season formed along the Louisiana coast early Saturday, but it could go on to impact much of the eastern U.S. and even Canada before dissipating.

By late evening Saturday, Tropical Storm Claudette evening was downgraded to a tropical depression. As of 5 p.m. CDT Sunday, Claudette was 80 miles west of Columbia, S.C., and 260 miles west of Cape Fear, N.C., according to the National Hurricane Center. It had maximum sustained winds of 30 mph, traveling 17 mph east-northeast.

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A tropical storm warning is in effect from Little River Inlet to Duck, N.C. and Palmico to Albemarle Islands. A tropical storm watch is in effect for South Santee River, S.C., to Little River Inlet.

Some re-strengthening is expected Sunday night, and Claudette is forecast to become a tropical storm again on Monday over eastern North Carolina, according to the NHC. Through early Tuesday, further strengthening is possible over the western Atlantic Ocean through early Tuesday. And by later in the evening, Claudette is expected to become a post-tropical cyclone by late Tuesday.

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AccuWeather meteorologists began to monitor the western Gulf of Mexico for tropical development over a week before Tropical Storm Claudette was named. Even before strengthening to a tropical storm, Claudette brought drenching downpours to portions of Louisiana, southern Alabama and Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle starting late on Friday.

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As much as a foot of rain is possible in this zone before the storm moves northeastward across the remainder of the Southeast this weekend. Widespread rainfall totals of 4-8 inches from Friday to Saturday were common across portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama as Claudette moved away from the area overnight Saturday.

As it moved over land on Saturday, Claudette lost wind intensity and was designated a tropical depression. Even with lesser wind gusts, heavy rainfall is expected to impact the southeastern United States through Sunday. Widespread rainfall amounts of 2-4 inches are forecast to spread across Georgia, and North and South Carolina.

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As Claudette continues its northeastward trajectory across North Carolina through Monday, the feature may be able to pull more moisture in from the Atlantic Ocean, leading to enhanced downpours.

Fortunately, parts of the region are in need of more rain. Portions of North Carolina and South Carolina, including cities like Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Myrtle Beach, are either abnormally dry or in a moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Too much rain too fast could initially lead to flooding in these dry areas before the ground is able to absorb the rain. Heavy downpours may also bring reduced visibility, ponding on roadways and slowed travel for motorists.

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Later on Monday, Claudette is forecast to slide off the North Carolina coast and go back over the Atlantic. Waters near the Outer Banks are warm, in the lower to middle 80s F, which may help Claudette restrengthen into a tropical storm by Tuesday morning.

Should this occur, the mid-Atlantic coast from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, up to Ocean City, Maryland, could experience rough surf, rip currents and even minor coastal flooding, especially at high tide.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued along part of the coast of North Carolina due to the anticipated impacts from the system.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Randy Adkins says that it's not out of the question that Claudette could regain some wind intensity, perhaps even restrengthen into a tropical storm, over North Carolina. Such a feat has happened with tropical systems in the past.

"Hurricane Danny, back in 1997, made landfall along the Gulf Coast then continued to lose wind strength as it moved northeastward across the southeastern U.S. over the next few days. However, before re-emerging over the waters of the west Atlantic, Danny strengthened back to a tropical storm over North Carolina," said Adkins.

Should this scenario occur, wind gusts in excess of 40 mph would be possible, especially in the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Monday.

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In addition, there could be rough surf and rip currents for the Massachusetts Cape and the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard as Claudette passes off to the east on Tuesday.

Claudette is forecast to continue moving northeastward through early this week. Eventually, the tropical system will move far enough north that the cooler waters of the North Atlantic Ocean will help Claudette to again lose wind intensity as it nears Atlantic Canada.

Even without being a tropical storm, Claudette is likely to deliver a wave of heavy rain to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland by the middle of the week. By this point, any of Claudette's moisture is likely to move quickly, limiting the region from higher rainfall totals. Some rough seas and rip currents are forecast to impact southern Nova Scotia until the storm has passed.

Storm damage was reported in East Brewton, Ala., around 8:15 a.m. CDT Saturday after a possible tornado tracked through the area, one of several suspected tornadoes on Saturday morning. No serious injuries were reported in the town, but damage and debris was scattered across some neighborhoods.

According to officials, the suspected tornado resulted in damages to 30 to 40 structures in the town, AccuWeather's Kim Leoffler reported. Three people are being treated for injuries.

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A tornado in Kirkland, Alabama, was confirmed on radar, according to the National Weather Service. A trailer in Kirkland was flipped over, but no injuries were reported.

In addition, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency declaration Thursday ahead of any tropical storm conditions. The declaration of a state of emergency allows the use of state resources to provide storm response aid.

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