Tropical Storm Claudette (1979)

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Tropical Storm Claudette
Tropical storm (SSHWS/NWS)
Claudette 1979-07-24 1845Z.png
Tropical Storm Claudette making landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border on July 24
FormedJuly 16, 1979
DissipatedJuly 29, 1979
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:50 mph (85 km/h)
Lowest pressure997 mbar (hPa); 29.44 inHg
Fatalities2 direct
Damage$400 million (1979 USD)
Areas affected Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba,
Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio Valley, Kentucky, Virginia
Part of the 1979 Atlantic hurricane season

Tropical Storm Claudette caused significant flooding in eastern Texas and western Louisiana in July 1979. The third named storm of the 1979 Atlantic hurricane season, Claudette developed from a tropical wave located east of the Windward Islands on July 16. It gradually strengthened and was upgraded to a tropical storm on July 17 and crossed the northern Leeward Islands later that day. As it neared landfall in Puerto Rico early on July 18, upper-level winds weakened it back to a tropical depression. Claudette remained disorganized and the National Hurricane Center operationally reported that it degenerated back into a tropical wave after crossing Puerto Rico. Late on July 18, the depression struck Dominican Republic, emerged into the Caribbean Sea on the following day. Claudette struck western Cuba on July 21, shortly before reaching the Gulf of Mexico and "regenerating" into a tropical cyclone. By July 23, Claudette regained tropical storm intensity and turned northward toward the Gulf Coast of the United States. The storm made landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border late on July 23 as a moderately strong tropical storm. It weakened slowly and drifted over land, lasting until dissipation in West Virginia on July 29.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

Louisiana State of the United States of America

Louisiana is a state in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state's capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

1979 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1979 Atlantic hurricane season was the first season to include both male and female names, as well as the common six-year rotating lists of tropical cyclone names. The season officially began on June 1, and lasted until November 30. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. It was slightly below average, with nine systems reaching tropical storm intensity. The first system, an unnumbered tropical depression, developed north of Puerto Rico on June 9. Two days later, Tropical Depression One formed and produced severe flooding in Jamaica, with 40 deaths and about $27 million (1979 USD) in damage. Tropical Storm Ana caused minimal impact in the Lesser Antilles. Hurricane Bob spawned tornadoes and produced minor wind damage along the Gulf Coast of the United States, primarily in Louisiana, while the remnants caused flooding, especially in Indiana. Tropical Storm Claudette caused extensive flooding, due to torrential rainfall. There were two deaths and damaged totaled $750 million.


In the Lesser Antilles, the storm brought heavy rainfall and gusty winds to several islands. Minor flooding occurred in Guadeloupe and Saint Croix. Rainfall exceeding 10 inches (250 mm) in some areas of Puerto Rico led to widespread agricultural damage, flooded homes and streets, and one fatality; losses were estimated at $750,000 (1979 USD). Despite its passage over Hispaniola and Cuba, impact in both regions is unknown. Claudette brought record-breaking rainfall to eastern Texas. In Alvin, 42 inches (1,100 mm) of rain fell in one day, which at one point was the record 24‑hour precipitation amount for any location in the United States. Significant coastal flooding and up to 15 inches (380 mm) of rainfall was reported in Louisiana. Overall, Claudette was responsible for two deaths and $400 million (1979 USD) in damage.

Lesser Antilles Archipelago in the Southeast Caribbean

The Lesser Antilles is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Most form a long, partly volcanic island arc between the Greater Antilles to the north-west and the continent of South America. The islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Together, the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles compose the Antilles. When combined with the Lucayan Archipelago, all three are known as the West Indies.

Guadeloupe Overseas region and department in France

Guadeloupe is an overseas region of France in the Caribbean. It consists of six inhabited islands, Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, La Désirade, and the Îles des Saintes, as well as many uninhabited islands and outcroppings.

Saint Croix one of the main islands of the United States Virgin Islands

Saint Croix is an island in the Caribbean Sea, and a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Claudette 1979 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

A tropical wave, the strongest of the season at mid-tropospheric levels, emerged into the Atlantic in the second week of July. In Dakar, Senegal, winds were as high as 100 mph (155 km/h) in the 550  mbar (16  inHg ) level of the atmosphere. The wave tracked westward and slowly organized. [1] It is estimated that a tropical depression developed after a surface circulation became evident at 1200 UTC on July 16. [2] Four hours later, the National Hurricane Center initiated advisories on Tropical Depression Five, which was centered about 400 miles (640 km) east of Guadeloupe. [3] The depression moved west-northwestward and approached the northern Lesser Antilles. On July 17, an Air Force reconnaissance aircraft flight reported sustained winds of 52 mph (84 km/h). As a result, the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Claudette later that day. [1]

Dakar Capital and largest city of Senegal

Dakar is the capital and largest city of Senegal. It is located on the Cap-Vert peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city on the African mainland. The city of Dakar proper has a population of 1,030,594, whereas the population of the Dakar metropolitan area is estimated at 2.45 million.

Senegal republic in Western Africa

Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal also borders The Gambia, a country occupying a narrow sliver of land along the banks of the Gambia River, which separates Senegal's southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country. Senegal also shares a maritime border with Cape Verde. Senegal's economic and political capital is Dakar.

Bar (unit) non-SI unit of pressure

The bar is a metric unit of pressure, but is not approved as part of the International System of Units (SI). It is defined as exactly equal to 100,000 Pa, which is slightly less than the current average atmospheric pressure on Earth at sea level.

As the storm moved westward, it encountered wind shear, weakening it back to depression status when it hit Puerto Rico. Claudette moved across islands of Hispaniola and Cuba as a tropical wave before reforming in the Gulf of Mexico on July 21. Fluctuating between tropical depression and tropical storm status, the disorganized storm drifted slowly westward before making landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border on July 24. The storm stalled over Alvin, Texas, on the evening of the 25th. The storm then weakened and continued northeastward through the Ohio Valley before dissipating on July 29.

Puerto Rico Unincorporated territory of the United States

Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and briefly called Porto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida.

Hispaniola island in the Caribbean

Hispaniola is an island in the Caribbean island group known as the Greater Antilles. It is the second largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba, and the most populous island in the Caribbean; it is also the eleventh most populous island in the world.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.


Tropical Storm Claudette killed 2 people and left $400 million (1979 USD, $1.1 billion 2005 USD).

Eastern Caribbean

Claudette as a tropical depression over Puerto Rico on July 18 Claudette Jul 18 1979 1430z.jpg
Claudette as a tropical depression over Puerto Rico on July 18

In Fort-de-France, Martinique, 2.72 inches (69 mm) of rain fell in 24 hours, causing localized flooding. Another total of 1.77 inches (45 mm) was measured at the Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport. Precipitation amounts between 7 and 8 inches (180 and 200 mm) on Guadeloupe resulted in flooding between Pointe-à-Pitre and Grand Fonds. Only 0.49 inches (12 mm) of rain fell on Saint Barthélemy. Rainfall amounted to 2.3 inches (58 mm) on Antigua and wind gusts reached 52 mph (84 km/h), while precipitation totals reached 1.55 inches (39 mm) and gusts up to 46 mph (74 km/h) were reported on Barbuda. On Saint Kitts, rainfall peaked at 1.5 inches (38 mm) and wind gusts topped at 35 mph (56 km/h). [4]

Fort-de-France Place in Martinique, France

Fort-de-France is the capital of France's Caribbean overseas department of Martinique. It is also one of the major cities in the Caribbean. Exports include sugar, rum, tinned fruit, and cacao.

Martinique Overseas region and department in France

Martinique is an insular region of France located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 376,480 inhabitants as of January 2016. Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, southeast of Greater Antilles, northwest of Barbados, and south of Dominica.

Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport airport

Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport, French: Aéroport International Martinique Aimé Césaire, is the international airport of Martinique in the French West Indies. Located in Le Lamentin, a suburb of the capital Fort-de-France, it was opened in 1950 and renamed in 2007, after author and politician Aimé Césaire.

In the United States Virgin Islands, Claudette dropped 5 inches (130 mm) of rain in less than 12 hours on the island of Saint Croix. Runoff from Blue Mountain caused a normally dry creek bed to overflow, flooding several homes in the Mon Bijou area. Additionally, about 25 families were evacuated in the vicinity of Glynn by the Civil Defense. [5]

United States Virgin Islands Group of islands in the Caribbean

The United States Virgin Islands, officially the Virgin Islands of the United States, is a group of islands in the Caribbean and an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.

Claudette produced up to 10.12 inches (257 mm) of precipitation in Puerto Rico, which was recorded in municipality of Peñuelas. Due to heavy rainfall, about 25 families were evacuated in Quebrada Limón by the Civil Defense. One fatality occurred when an attempted to drive across a swollen creek near Guayanilla. A bridge along the Coayuco River linking Yauco to Quebrada Limón was damaged by the abnormally high water levels of the river. Minor flooding was reported in the Ponce Area was the Río Portugués and Río Bucaná overflowed. Excess rainfall caused the Río Guanajibo to inundate streets to a "considerable" extent in Mayagüez. Widespread agricultural damage was reported, especially in Las Marías, Maricao, Sabana Grande, and San Sebastián. Overall, losses in Puerto Rico amounted to about $750,000 (1979 USD). [5]

United States

Claudette Rainfall Graphic Claudette 1979 rainfall.png
Claudette Rainfall Graphic


Claudette produced torrential rains in both Texas and Louisiana when it made landfall. The highest one-day total was reported near Alvin, Texas where 42 inches (1,100 mm) of rain fell. This remained as the highest twenty-four-hour rainfall record for any location in the United States until April 14-15, 2018 when 49.69 inches (1,262 mm) of rain fell in 24 hours in Waipā Garden, Kauai, Hawaii. [6] Two other towns also reported rainfall totals exceeding 30 inches (760 mm). [7] There was only one death from drowning and Louisiana received only minor damage from up to 15 inches (380 mm) of rainfall. [8] Texas was hard hit by Claudette, with flooding reported in southeast Texas from up to 45 inches (1,100 mm) of rainfall. Many residents had to be rescued from low-lying areas that were flooded. [9]


Tides reached 4 feet (1.2 m) mean sea-level in Lake Charles, while seas were 3.9 feet (1.2 m) in Cameron. As a result, significant coastal flooding occurred. 8 miles (13 km) of Louisiana Highway 82 was either seriously damaged or destroyed, while 14 miles (23 km) of secondary roads were impacted in Cameron Parish. Several boats in the region capsized at the beaches. Seven homes and fishing camps were significantly damaged or destroyed by waves and strong winds in Johnson Bayou. At Constance Beach in Cameron Parish, up to 40 feet (12 m) of sand was eroded along a 1 mile (1.6 km) long section. [10]


In Missouri, rainfall exceeded 5 inches (130 mm) in some areas. The James River overflowed near Springfield, trapping two elderly women in their home. Heavy rainfall in Farmington backed-up sewer drains, flooded basements, and blew-off large manhole covers. Flood water swept away a car in Ste. Genevieve, washed-out a portion of a sidewalk, and toppled fencing along a baseball field. At the Cover Wagon RV park in Waynesville, flooding damage was approximately $5,000. In Rolla, floodwaters between 3 and 4 feet (0.91 and 1.22 m) forced the evacuation of eight families, and washed out driveways. Cars, shedsfences, kennels, and butane tanks were swept to other locations. Numerous roads were closed in Christian, Greene, and Taney Counties. [5]

As the remnants of Claudette moved inland, it dumped heavy rains across the Midwest and Ohio Valley. Flooding was reported in Missouri, where heavy rains caused significant flooding near St. Louis. [11] In Indiana, about 9 inches of rain fell and isolated flooding was reported. [12]


On July 28, 1979, then-President of the United States Jimmy Carter issued a disaster declaration for Texas, allowing the counties of Brazoria, Chambers, Dallas, Galveston, Jefferson and Orange to be eligible for government aid in order to recover from flooding. [13]

See also

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  11. NOAA Data
  12. Kansas Water Publication
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