Wrath of Claudette Reintroduces US to Hurricane Season Horrors

Several homes were damaged near Pensacola, Florida, on Saturday morning as Claudette moved inland.
Several homes were damaged near Pensacola, Florida, on Saturday morning as Claudette moved inland. (AccuWeather/Bill Wadell)
By Mark Puleo, AccuWeather staff writer

ACCUWEATHER-(ENEWSPF)- The hurricane season couldn’t wait until summer to start striking the United States. On the final day of spring, Tropical Storm Claudette reintroduced the Southeast to the horrors of hurricane season in deadly fashion.

The storm burst onto radars last week before being dubbed Potential Tropical Cyclone Three on Thursday. By Saturday, the system had strengthened enough to be given the name Claudette, becoming the third named storm of the 2021 season. The storm struck along the U.S. Gulf Coast and killed over a dozen people in the Southeast.

The death toll was raised to at least 14 people on Monday after authorities in Birmingham, Alabama, confirmed the fatality of Timothy Bragg, 31, who died after falling into flood waters, USA Today reported. Sebastian Carrillo, of the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service Department, said during a news conference that his body was recovered after a two-day search.

It made the rare move to restrengthen to a tropical storm Monday after having previously weakened over land. The tropical storm-turned-depression regained strength reaching tropical-storm force and drenched North Carolina before it departed and moved out to sea.

The majority of the fatalities stemmed from one tragic car accident in Butler County, Alabama, on Interstate 65. Amid torrential downpours Saturday afternoon, the multi-vehicle accident claimed at least 10 lives in what Butler County Sherrif Danny Bond called “the worst traffic accident I’ve witnessed in my life,” according to USA Today.

One of the vehicles involved was carrying children from the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, a program part of the Alabama Sherrifs Youth Ranches, which provides homes for needy, neglected or abused children. Along with the eight children killed from that vehicle, 29-year-old Cody Fox and his 9-month-old daughter Ariana also perished in the 18-vehicle pileup. Fox’s fiance remains in intensive care.

Elsewhere in Alabama, heavy rains triggered extensive flooding while extreme wind gusts downed trees. In Tuscaloosa County, a 24-year-old father and his 3-year-old son were killed when a tree fell on their home on Saturday, according to Tuscaloosa News.

Reports of evacuations, rescues, a mudslide and overturned vehicles kept first responders busy in the county, with many of the area’s roads became impassible due to flooding.

Read more here on ACCUWEATHER.COM.