Claudette, the third named storm of the year, is now a tropical depression and continues its path toward the southeast region of the United States with heavy rain and gusty winds on Saturday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of 7 p.m. CDT, the tropical depression was located about 75 miles west of Montgomery, Ala. and about 125 miles north-northeast of Mobile, Ala., with maximum sustained winds at 35 miles per hour.
“A turn toward the east-northeast is expected tonight and Sunday,” NHC forecaster Jack Beven said. “On the forecast track, the system should move farther inland across portions of the southeast U.S. through Sunday night, and over the western Atlantic Ocean on Monday.”
A tropical storm watch remains in effect for a portion of the North Carolina coast from Cape Fear to Duck, including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.
Claudette is expected to weaken further tonight, based on NHC reports. However, Claudette is forecast to become a tropical storm again when it moves across the Carolinas on Sunday night or early Monday.
Rainfall totals could fall between 3 to 6 inches and as high as 8 inches across portions of eastern Alabama, northern Georgia, the Florida Panhandle, and South and North Carolina through the night, according to the latest NHC advisory.
The NHC warned of flash, urban and small stream flooding as a result of the heavy rainfall and said river flooding could occur as the storm hits areas with elevated rivers. Tropical storm conditions, including high winds, are expected to continue along the coasts in the storm’s path through Saturday, the NHC said.
“The storm total rainfall is expected to be 5 to 10 inches with isolated 15 inches totals in southeast Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the western Florida panhandle,” NHC forecaster John Cangialosi said.
Tornadoes are possible tonight across southeast Alabama, the western Florida Panhandle, and southwest Georgia.
Storm surge could reach between 1 to 3 feet in areas from Cape Lookout, NC to the North Carolina-Virginia border.
Staff writers Joe Mario Pedersen, David Harris and Katie Rice contributed to this report.