Storm brings rain to Gulf Coast

First tropical storm to hit coast soaks Florida and Alabama but causes little damage.


"It was a gentle babe"

—Gail Gardner, Immanuel Lutheran Church

Tropical Storm Claudette became the first named storm of the season to make landfall in the United States on the western coast of the Florida panhandle Monday.

According to Keith Williams, forecaster for the National Weather Service (NWS) in Mobile, Alabama, Claudette is expected to weaken and dissipate, as it moved northwesterly through the south central parts of Alabama. Flash flooding and a small tornado were reported in Ft. Myers.

“We’re really not expecting anything from Claudette,” said Williams. “It really didn’t pose a lot of problems to any land areas as it passed by.”

“It was a gentle babe,” said Gail Gardner, church secretary at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Pensacola, Florida. “I grew up in Pensacola and it was nothing to me, just a little rain and a little wind.”

Claudette may not be more than a rainy day for folks today, but the development of the first three named storms of the season in a single weekend served to warn people that it is the most active part of hurricane season and there is plenty of time left.

As the edges of Claudette move towards Mississippi, the director of Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), Mike Womack advised residents to stock their emergency supply kits in preparation for upcoming storm forecasts after Claudette passes.

MEMA also reminds residents statewide that the activity in the tropics has picked up and two other named tropical storms - Ana and Bill - are moving westward, according to MEMA public officials.

Bill became the first hurricane of the 2009 season and continues to build in strength as it slowly moves northwest toward the mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S. The category one storm has winds of 90 mph, but Bill could become a major hurricane within the next five days, according to NWS.

“It’s still a ways away from making landfall,” said Williams, “but it doesn’t look like it will be a problem so far.”

Tropical Depression Ana is currently bringing heavy rains to Puerto Rico, but also shows signs of continuing to weaken, according to NWS.

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