Hurricane Claudette is bringing heavy rains, high winds and flooding to parts of the U.S. state of Texas. The storm, with winds up to 130 kilometers an hour, roared ashore Tuesday, but is expected to break up as it moves inland. Hurricane Claudette battered coastal areas of Texas with high winds and heavy seas as it moved ashore. The storm center passed over Port O'Connor, Texas, about 160 kilometers south of Houston, but local officials say Claudette caused minor damage to their town which was devastated by previous hurricanes in 1919 and 1961.
Michael Tiage a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center in Miami says coastal and inland areas of Texas will experience some flooding as the storm breaks up over the next 24 hours. "Little by little the system will be weakening, obviously as it gets more inland, but expect rain and winds of even 30 or 40 knots even if the hurricane force winds have weakened. Flooding is possible over the next few days, especially in some of the inland rivers and waterways," Mr. Tiage said.
Winds and heavy rains were felt all along a 300-kilometer area - stretching from Galveston to Corpus Christi. In the days leading up to the storm, oil companies evacuated workers from oil drilling and production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
Claudette, which was the first hurricane of the 2003 Atlantic and Caribbean hurricane season, also brought heavy rains and flooding to Jamaica, the Cayman islands and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula before it struck the Texas coast.
While Claudette was the first hurricane to strike this year, it is not expected to be the last. Forecasters say 2003 will be an above average year for tropical storm and hurricane activity in the region with 11 to 15 tropical storms forecast. Six to nine of the storms are expected to become hurricanes, and two to four of those, "major hurricanes," reaching category three or higher on the Safir-Simpson scale of strength, with winds of at least 175 kilometers an hour. Hurricane season officially ends on November 30.