Tropical Storm Claudette dumped heavy rain across coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama as it chugged inland Saturday, threatening flash floods and possibly tornadoes along its soggy course across the Southeast. The National Hurricane Center declared Claudette organized enough to qualify as a named storm at 4am Saturday, well after the storm's center of circulation had come ashore southwest of New Orleans. It was north of the city three hours later, with maximum sustained winds of 45mph as the storm plodded to the northeast at 12mph. The heaviest rains were far from the center, near the Mississippi-Alabama state line, reports the AP.
Tornado warnings were issued from the Mississippi coast to the western Florida panhandle. In Mobile County, Alabama, someone reported storm damage to a fishing pier on Dauphin Island, Alabama, said Glen Brannan of the county Emergency Management Agency. Forecasters said Claudette could dump 5 to 10 inches of rain in the region, with isolated accumulations of 15 inches possible. Forecasters predicted Claudette would become a tropical depression by early Sunday as its remnants crossed Alabama toward Georgia and the Carolinas. The storm was forecast to cross into the Atlantic Ocean off North Carolina on Monday, and regain tropical storm strength over open water Tuesday.
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