Tropical storm Claudette is now forecast as likely to be named in the coming hours and make the first landfall of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, with the latest forecasts suggesting that sustained winds could near 45 mph, while torrential rain, flooding and some tornadoes are forecast for the Louisiana and inland region.
Tropical storm Claudette, or potential tropical cyclone 3 as it’s still known, provides an early reminder of the landfall threat from tropical storms and hurricanes that the insurance, reinsurance and insurance-linked securities or catastrophe bond sectors face through the coming months.
After last year’s season that threw numerous storms and hurricanes at the US coastline, tropical storm Claudette (if named) is a relatively early landfall event, but also a relatively weak one, being forecast to only maintain storm strength and being seen as unlikely to intensify to become a hurricane before it strikes land somewhere in Louisiana.
However the flooding threat from the forecast rainfall totals could be severe, so the impacts to lives and livelihoods are still potentially significant.
Currently, potential tropical cyclone 3, likely soon to become tropical storm Claudette, has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and is heading north towards the central Louisiana coast.
While winds could be up at 40mph to 45 mph at landfall, a range of environmental factors including high wind shear across the Gulf is expected to limit intensification.
Tropical storm Claudette would be the third named storm of the 2021 hurricane season and while it won’t pose any particular challenges to the insurance or reinsurance market, or ILS funds, it could still cause some damage on its passage through Louisiana.
Forecasters expect that the biggest impacts from possible tropical storm Claudette will be felt to the east of the storm’s center, with the heaviest rainfall on this side as it comes ashore and moves inland, where weakening is expected.
The NHC warns of significant rainfall and an expectation that flash flooding will be seen along the path of tropical storm Claudette.
Flood impacts are expected to be across a wide area, as far north as into the southern Appalachians. Tropical storm warnings are in place for a wide swathe of the Gulf Coast, including into the Florida Panhandle area.
The NHC said on the rainfall and flood threat for the United States:
Rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches are expected across portions of the Central Gulf Coast beginning today. Considerable flash, urban and small stream flooding impacts as well as new and renewed minor to isolated moderate river flooding are likely.
As the system continues to lift northeast through the weekend, anticipate heavy rain to expand across southeastern Mississippi, southern and central Alabama, and central Georgia resulting in rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 7 inches. Flash, urban, small stream and isolated minor river flooding impacts are possible.
On storm surge risk, a surge of 2 to 3 foot is expected in certain areas near the landfall site and just to the east of it, while the NHC also warns of a threat of some tornadoes occurring as well.
You can see the rainfall forecast for potential tropical storm Claudette in the image below from the National Weather Service.
Tropical storm Claudette is forecast to make landfall tonight, local time, over Central Louisiana and move inshore, weakening to a depression soon after.