State News

Tropical Storm Claudette strengthening near Florida

Posted August 16, 2009 2:06 p.m. EDT
Updated August 16, 2009 2:49 p.m. EDT

— Forecasters say Tropical Storm Claudette is strengthening off the northern Gulf Coast of Florida with winds of about 50 mph.

The storm that just formed early Sunday is expected to bring heavy rain to the area and possible flooding. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said it was expected to make landfall Sunday evening.

At 2 p.m. EDT, the storm was about 40 miles south of Apalachicola and 160 miles southeast of Pensacola. It was moving northwest at about 14 mph.

Forecasters said it could intensify as it heads toward the coast and residents were urged to be prepared.

Claudette could increase the chance of rain in western North Carolina by mid-week, WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said. He added that some models have the system moving up the Mississippi River valley and missing North Carolina altogether, so it's too early to tell if the storm will impact the state.

Meanwhile, hurricane hunting aircraft found that Tropical Storm Ana was poorly organized and barely a named storm with 40 mph winds as it headed toward the Leeward Islands in the Atlantic.