2 Dead After Tropical Depression Claudette Lashes the South

Claudette, which was downgraded to a tropical depression, is expected to return to tropical storm status and bring heavy rains and flooding as it barrels toward the Carolinas.,

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Tropical Depression Claudette, which is blamed for the deaths of two people in Alabama on Saturday night, is expected to strengthen to a tropical storm as it barrels through the Southeast on Sunday and heads for the Carolinas, the authorities said.

Kip Tyner, a councilman in Tuscaloosa, Ala., said in a Facebook post that two people had died. The Tuscaloosa News reported that a 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy were killed Saturday night when their home was struck by a fallen tree.

The Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and the Emergency Management Agency did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

Across the Southeast, maximum sustained winds decreased to 30 miles per hour with higher gusts, the National Hurricane Center said on Sunday morning.

“Some restrengthening is expected tonight, and Claudette is forecast to become a tropical storm again on Monday over eastern North Carolina,” the center said.

Claudette is the third named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. It formed in the Gulf of Mexico and unleashed up to 15 inches of rain on Saturday in southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle, forecasters said.

Claudette was expected to produce additional rainfall totals of three to six inches, with some pockets on Sunday morning getting as much as eight inches, across eastern Alabama, northern Georgia, the Florida Panhandle, and the Carolinas, the center said. Some of these areas may see flash flooding.

When the storm reaches the Carolinas, some coastal areas can expect floods moving in from the shore, forecasters said.

“The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland,” the center said.

Claudette is expected to weaken to a post-tropical cyclone by Tuesday night.

ImageEven before making landfall, Claudette was a hazard for motorists trying to navigate a flooded Gause Boulevard in Slidell, La., late Friday.
Even before making landfall, Claudette was a hazard for motorists trying to navigate a flooded Gause Boulevard in Slidell, La., late Friday.Credit…Scott Threlkeld/The Advocate, via Associated Press

While the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is just getting underway, many residents along the Gulf Coast are still recovering from a string of storms that battered the region last summer and fall.

Seven named storms thrashed the Gulf Coast in 2020, including Eta, which slammed Florida twice, leaving tens of thousands without electricity and flooding beach communities.

Louisiana, perhaps one of the hardest-hit states, had at least five storms, including Zeta and Hurricane Laura, which made landfall on the state’s coast as a Category 4 storm with 150-mile-an-hour winds, destroying office buildings, a sky bridge, trees and power lines. The storm was also responsible for at least six deaths in the state.

In late May, a subtropical storm named Ana developed northeast of Bermuda, becoming the first named storm of the current hurricane season.

It was the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1. Ana was followed by Bill, which formed hundreds of miles off the coast of North Carolina this week and became a tropical storm before being downgraded as it remained at sea.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, six to 10 of which would be hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic.

Last year, there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and move to using Greek letters.

It was the highest number of storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and included the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.

Hurricanes have become increasingly dangerous and destructive with each passing season.

Researchers have found that climate change has produced storms that are more powerful and have heavier rain. The storms also have a tendency to dawdle and meander. A combination of rising seas and slower storms also make for higher and more destructive storm surges.

Reporting was contributed by Maria Cramer, Johnny Diaz, Mike Ives and Alyssa Lukpat.

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