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Tropical Storm Claudette Soaked the Southeast Before Moving Off Mid-Atlantic Coast

The Weather Channel logoThe Weather Channel 6/21/2021 weather.com meteorologists
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Tropical Storm Claudette produced flooding rain and a few tornadoes in the Southeast over Father's Day weekend before restrengthening near the North Carolina coast.

(MORE: Claudette Causes Damage in the South)

Claudette had a lengthy genesis story dating back to the beginning of June.

Initially, a very large spin in the atmosphere over Central America, called the Central American Gyre, produced heavy rain from southern Mexico to Panama. That gyre eventually broke down and produced both Claudette and Tropical Storm Dolores in the eastern Pacific.

As the disturbance that formed into Claudette came north from the Bay of Campeche, it became lopsided to the east due to dry air filtering in from the west and a surge of west winds aloft providing hostile wind shear.

Based on the expectation of formation, the National Hurricane Center began issuing forecast advisories for the system dubbed Potential Tropical Cyclone Three on June 17 as it was just under 500 miles south of the Louisiana coast.

Satellites found winds in excess of 40 mph in the eastern side of the disturbance on June 18th, but Hurricane Hunter missions could not find a closed low-pressure circulation at the surface needed to call the system a tropical storm.

Claudette formed into a tropical storm only after crossing the shoreline into Louisiana early on June 19.

This isn't the first time a named storm has formed over land.

In 2020, a tropical depression became Tropical Storm Sally over the Florida Everglades.

A tropical depression formed in 2016 while crossing the east-central Florida coast near Jensen Beach, then intensified into a tropical storm just inland of Palm Bay. That storm then rode Interstate 95 northward to near Savannah as a tropical storm before moving offshore.

Claudette's worst impacts hit parts of southeast Louisiana, the Florida Panhandle and Alabama late June 18 through June 19.

A wind gust of 81 mph was recorded in Pensacola Beach, Florida, where some windows were blown out of at least one hotel and a tractor-trailer reportedly blew over on a bridge.

Wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph were reported along the Gulf Coast from Mississippi to Florida. A 46 mph wind gust was reported near Petit Bois Island, Mississippi, and a 50 mph gust was reported near Panama City Beach.

Claudette produced peak storm surge inundation of 4.43 feet above ground level at Waveland, Mississippi, and just over 3.21 feet at Shell Beach, Louisiana, early June 19.

Claudette spawned several tornadoes, including an EF2 in East Brewton, Alabama, which tore a 22-mile path. A brief EF1 tornado touched down in Jackson County, Mississippi.

Claudette dumped flooding rain from parts of southeast Louisiana to southern Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and northwest Georgia.

More than 10 inches of rain fell in eastern Louisiana near Slidell, flooding many streets and prompting water rescues in the city.

Up to 12 inches of rain soaked parts of southern Mississippi, flooding many low-lying areas near the Gulf Coast including Waveland, Kiln, Pascagoula, Bay St. Louis and Biloxi.

In Alabama, flash flooding was reported in the city of Mobile and also in Brewton, also hit by an EF2 tornado.

More serious flash flooding hammered the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham metro areas late June 19, prompting water rescues. One area near Tuscaloosa picked up over 9 inches of rain.

One person was swept off a road by flood waters and killed near Pine Ridge, Alabama, about 50 miles east-southeast of Huntsville.

In northwest Georgia, numerous businesses and intersections were flooded in Summerville by Town Branch Creek.

Claudette became a tropical storm once again over eastern North Carolina early on the morning of June 21, based on an observation of "a brief period of sustained tropical storm force winds" just after 2 a.m. at a NOAA buoy just off the coast of southeast North Carolina, as well as slightly falling surface pressure near the center, according to the National Hurricane Center. Claudette then moved away from the East Coast into the Atlantic.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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