The storm has been brewing over southern Mexico and is expected to move back into the Gulf of Mexico Friday, Greenville, S.C., NBC affiliate WYFF-TV reports. It’s expected to strengthen as it moves towards the U.S. coast.
Cristobal will be located in the central gulf by Sunday morning and will close in on Louisiana by early Monday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Flash flooding is likely, with predicted rain rates of two to four inches per hour, New Orleans NBC affiliate WDSU-TV reports. Winds as high as 88 kilometres per hour are expected, too.
While Cristobal was originally considered a tropical storm, the NHC downgraded it to a tropical depression on Thursday morning. Warnings of heavy rains and life-threatening flooding remain, New Orleans public radio station WWNO says.
Southeastern Louisiana and parts of Mississippi are on flood watch until Tuesday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center predicts a significant amount of rainfall from June 4 to 11 in the Gulf states and Lower Mississippi River.
“Due to a great degree of uncertainty, Louisiana is still in play at this point,” Robert Ricks, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, told WWNO.
“I guess the main thing is not to focus on the circulation of the storm itself,” Ricks continued. “The rain shield is going to be really large on this … We’re talking about many inches of rain, potentially, say from Wednesday through early next week.”
He added that residents of at-risk areas should get their seasonal hurricane plans in place, noting that they could use them earlier this hurricane season, which is typically between August and October.
Cristobal has made history as the third tropical storm of 2020 already, only four days into the typical hurricane season, according to The Weather Channel. None of the storms have become hurricanes yet.
Early this week, the storm pummelled parts of southern Mexico and Central America with damaging winds and deadly flooding.
It formed from a large system called a Central American gyre, combined with the leftovers of tropical storm Amanda, Al Jazeera says.