Tropical Storm Claudette forms SW of New Orleans: Latest forecast

(NEW YORK) — A tropical threat churning in the Gulf of Mexico is taking aim at the Gulf Coast — and has formed into Tropical Storm Claudette just southwest of New Orleans.

The storm is moving NNE as 12 mph with sustained winds at 45 mph, gusting at 60 mph. Tropical storm force winds extend 205 miles from the center.

Claudette is expected to move inland Saturday morning, and is expected to weaken by tonight and become a post-tropical system by Sunday.

Heavy rains and tropical storm force winds will continue along the northern Gulf Coast today. An additional 3 to 6 inches of rain is expected in the South which could trigger flash flooding.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect from New Orleans to Pensacola, including Gulfport, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama, where tropical storm conditions are expected into Saturday morning.

The heaviest rain will likely be east of New Orleans, from Gulfport to Mobile, and up through southern Alabama into Saturday morning. Up to 12 inches of rain is possible in some areas.

Flash flood watches are in effect from New Orleans to Atlanta. As the storm moves inland, it’ll bring heavy rain to Atlanta and into South Carolina through Sunday morning.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a state of emergency. The governor warned that after severe flooding last month, river levels are still high and drainage ditches are still full. Louisiana was especially hard-hit last hurricane season.

Meanwhile, unprecedented record heat is still scorching the western half of the country from the Plains to California.

Palm Springs tied its all-time high temperature of 123 degrees on Thursday.

Omaha hit 105 degrees — the first time the city reached that temperature in June since 1953.

Excessive heat warnings and heat advisories remain in effect from California to Illinois Friday afternoon as temperatures continue to reach the triple digits. More records highs are possible Friday in Phoenix, Reno and Fresno, California.

The heat in the West may finally subside Sunday into Monday.

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