Tropical Storm Claudette Batters Gulf Coast With Rain, Floods, and High Winds

Danny Gonzales (right) stands in front of his flooded house with his neighbor Bob Neal after Tropical Storm Claudette passed through, in Slidell, La., on Saturday. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Thunderstorms and high winds on the east side of Tropical Storm Claudette battered the Florida Panhandle and much of Alabama on Saturday, as the weather system moved toward the North Carolina coast.

The National Hurricane Center declared Claudette organized enough to qualify as a named storm at 4 a.m. Saturday, well after the storm’s center of circulation had come ashore southwest of New Orleans. By mid-morning it was 75 miles (120 kilometers) north-northeast of the city with winds clocked at 40 mph (65 kph). It was moving north-northeast at 14 mph (22 kph), and most of the heavy weather was happening far to the north and east of the center.