Tropical Storm Claudette is drenching Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle as it continues to move inland, marking the first storm this season to touch land.
As of the 2 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center says Claudette is still maintaining 40 mph sustained winds as it moves north-northeast at 14 mph. Claudette 80 miles north-northwest of Mobile, Alabama and 140 miles west-southwest of Montgomery, Alabama.
Claudette’s tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles southeast of the center.
It reached tropical storm status around 5 a.m. as it crossed the 40 mph sustained wind threshold to become the third named storm of the season.
The tropical storm warning from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Mouth of the Mississippi River had been discontinued by the 2 p.m. advisory.
However, a tropical storm warning is still in place from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Cape Fear to Duck, North Carolina, Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.
Forecasters say Claudette is expected to weaken to a tropical depression later today as it continues to move farther inland across portions of the southeast U.S., however, it is forecast to become a tropical storm again when it moves across the Carolinas Sunday night or early Monday.
By Monday, forecasters predict Claudette will be over the western Atlantic Ocean.
Storm surge predictions for the area are low, around one to three feet, and there’s a potential for some tornadoes. But the real threat is rain, forecasters say.
Through the afternoon, portions of coastal Mississippi and Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle could see 5 to 10 inches of rain, with isolated maximums of 15 inches.
NOAA has called for another active hurricane season, with 13 to 20 named storms.