NHC says Claudette weakens to tropical depression


Claudette is expected to weaken a little more on Saturday night and become a tropical storm again when it moves across the Carolinas Sunday night or early Monday, NHC added.

Tropical Depression Claudette will move east-northeast through Sunday and is forecast to strengthen to a Tropical Storm and move over North Carolina tonight into Monday.

In addition to the 10 people who died in the two-vehicle crash on Saturday, a tree fell on a house near the Tuscaloosa city limits - killing a 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy, Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit's Capt. Marty Sellers told Tuscaloosa News.

Claudet was declared well organized to qualify as a named tropical cyclone early Saturday morning, long after the center of the storm cycle landed southwest of New Orleans. Claudette was forecast to cross into the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, and eventually regain tropical storm strength.

On Saturday and Saturday night, the system's heavy rain also caused flooding in parts of central and northern Alabama, including around Tuscaloosa.

"A turn toward the east-northeast is expected tonight and Sunday", NHC forecaster Jack Beven said.

Shortly after landfall, a suspected tornado spurred by the storm demolished or badly damaged at least 50 homes in a small town in Alabama, just north of the Florida border. Most of the damage was done in or near the towns of Brewton and East Brewton, about 48 miles (77 kilometers) north of Pensacola, Florida. "But these mobile homes are built very close together, so they can cost far more than homes in remote locations".

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The National Weather Service received three reports of tornadoes in southern Alabama and four in southwestern Georgia.

The storm also rained floods north of Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, and along the MS coast, flooding the streets and, in some areas, pushing water into homes.

"The storm total rainfall is expected to be 5 to 10 inches with isolated 15 inches totals in southeast Louisiana, southern MS, southern Alabama, and the western Florida panhandle", NHC forecaster John Cangialosi said.

Tornado watches and warnings were also posted from MS to Florida with threats of rip currents and high surf near the shoreline.

"The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline", the Hurricane Center writes.

The NHC noted that a National Ocean Service station on Petit Bois Island, Miss. had recently recorded maximum winds of 39 miles per hour with a gust to 46 miles per hour.

Heavy rainfall totals up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) were expected across the southwest and western coastal areas of Mexico throughout the weekend. Forecasters were warning of the potential for flash flooding and mudslides.