05 June 2020

Cristobal starts moving north, warnings issued for US Gulf coast

As expected, Cristobal spent the majority of this week sitting nearly stationary over the Yucatan Peninsula and Bay of Campeche. It briefly weakened to a Depression for a day, but is now back at tropical storm intensity. The large circulation is lopsided, with most of the "business" on the east half of the storm. The rainfall in south Mexico and parts of central America has been devastating, and now it begins its trek toward the U.S.

Rain will be a big player in the U.S. as well, and the 5-day forecast accumulations highlight Cristobal's predicted path well. Large swaths of 4"+ with localized amounts up to a foot will produce flooding in the affected areas (see map below).

It's likely to maintain tropical storm status as it heads north, and those tropical storm force winds should reach the northern Gulf coast by Saturday evening into Sunday morning.  The actual landfall (when the center crosses the coastline) is not expected until Sunday afternoon... somewhere in Louisiana most likely. Along with the new tropical storm warnings, storm surge warnings have also been issued for parts of the northern Gulf coast. Models are in really tight agreement on the track and intensity forecasts, so hopefully there are no surprises.

Of note, this is the first storm to utilize the experimental "peak storm surge" graphic that NHC has only produced in-house previously. It is part of the suite of the products available at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_at3.shtml?start#contents. Note the maximum area in MS and eastern LA, just east of where Cristobal is expected to make landfall.

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