Claudette bears down on south Alabama

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, August 16, 2009

Butler County is under a tropical storm wind warning due to the impending arrival of Tropical Storm Claudette, which is expected to make landfall tonight. The warning is expected to remain in effect from 10 p.m. tonight until 8 a.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Storm winds are expected to begin shortly before midnight with winds increasing to between 25 and 30 miles per hour. Winds could guest to as high as 45 miles per hour. Chance of rain and thundershowers is 70 percent.

There is the chance of localized flooding as well as the danger falling tree limbs.

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Gene Jacobi, spokesperson for the National Weather Service in Mobile, the storm strengthened over night and became a tropical depression around 2 a.m.

“It’s actually been a tropical wave out there for a couple of days,” he said.

Later Sunday morning, the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Claudette, after wind models increased to more than 39 miles per hour.

According to NWS Senior Forecaster Don Shepherd conditions “were just right” for the tropical wave to form into the year’s third named storm.

“Really the threats in Mobile and Baldwin counties are minimal,” Shepherd said. “The bigger threat is more in Escambia, Conecuh and Covington counties. The main center of the storm will hit late tonight and early tomorrow morning.”

Shepherd said at 1:30 p.m. Sunday that numerous showers and thunderstorms are already “rapidly developing” as a result of Claudette. He added that there would also be “low-end” tornado threats this afternoon into the evening hours.

Shepherd said he does not expect Claudette to be upgraded to a hurricane with early sustained wind predictions between 20 to 25 miles per hour with gusts between 40 and 50 miles per hour, which are also expected as the center of the storm passes through the area.

“It will be gusty and fairly breezy,” Shepherd said. “Winds of that type can bring down some trees and power lines.”

In addition, Shepherd suggests that residents living in the path of Claudette make sure they secure loose, lightweight objects outdoors and have batteries and other essentials in case of power outages.

“It should begin getting breezy between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.,” he said.

As for storm’s expected duration, it is unknown, but not expected to be long.

Contributing-Andalusia Star-News