Cristobal to renew strength after merging with another storm system, forecasters say

Click to play video: 'U.S. Air Force flies over Storm Cristobal in the Gulf of Mexico' U.S. Air Force flies over Storm Cristobal in the Gulf of Mexico
WATCH: U.S. Air Force flies over Storm Cristobal in the Gulf of Mexico – Jun 7, 2020

Tropical Storm Cristobal could soon renew its strength by uniting with another storm system coming from the west to form one giant cyclone, forecasters say.

After drenching much of the South, forecasters now expect the remnants of Cristobal to bring fierce winds, heavy rain and thunderstorms to much of the Midwest by Tuesday.

A very strong storm system sweeping out from the Rocky Mountains is expected to meld with Cristobal in the next couple of days, said Greg Carbin, who oversees forecasts at the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

READ MORE: Tropical Storm Cristobal spawns tornado in Florida, moves towards U.S. Gulf Coast

“The two will eventually merge into a large cyclone,” Carbin said. “It’s a pretty fascinating interaction we’ll see over the next couple of days.”

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Wind gusts of up to 45 mph (72 kph) are expected in Chicago by Tuesday night, the National Weather Service said. Boaters were being warned of gale-force winds on nearby Lake Michigan on Tuesday and Wednesday.

High winds could be felt from Nebraska to Wisconsin, forecasters said. In parts of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, the gusty winds and low humidity will bring the threat of wildfires in areas with dry grass, National Weather Service forecasters warned. Any blazes that start will spread rapidly, they said.

Click to play video: 'Tropical storm Cristobal brings heavy flooding in Mexico' Tropical storm Cristobal brings heavy flooding in Mexico
Tropical storm Cristobal brings heavy flooding in Mexico – Jun 5, 2020

Cristobal weakened into a depression early Monday after inundating coastal Louisiana and ginning up dangerous weather along most of the U.S. Gulf Coast, sending waves crashing over Mississippi beaches, swamping parts of an Alabama island town and spawning a tornado in Florida.

Heavy rainfall and a storm surge continued posing a threat across a wide area of the coast after Cristobal made landfall Sunday afternoon packing 50-mph (85-kph) winds between the mouth of the Mississippi River and the since-evacuated barrier island resort community of Grand Isle.

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At 10 a.m. CDT Monday, the storm was centered about 15 miles (30 kilometers) east of Monroe, Louisiana, with top winds of 35 mph (55 kph). It was moving northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).

READ MORE: Cristobal powers back into tropical storm as it barrels toward U.S. Gulf Coast

Cristobal’s remnants could be a rainmaker for days. Its forecast path takes it into Arkansas and Missouri by Tuesday, then through Illinois and Wisconsin to the Great Lakes.

“It’s very efficient, very tropical rainfall,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said in a Facebook video. “It rains a whole bunch real quick.”

In their last update on Cristobal from the hurricane center, forecasters said up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain could fall in some areas, and could cause significant river flooding across the mid and upper Mississippi Valley.

Coastal Mississippi news outlets reported stalled cars and trucks as flood waters inundated beaches and crashed over highways. On the City of Biloxi Facebook page, officials said emergency workers helped dozens of motorists through flood waters, mostly on U.S. 90 running along the coast.

Crews from the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East close the Bayou Road flood gate in St. Bernard Parish, La. Saturday, June 6, 2020, ahead of Tropical Storm Cristobal. A re-energized Tropical Storm Cristobal advanced toward the U.S. Gulf Coast early Saturday, bringing with it the heavy rains that already caused flooding and mudslides in Mexico and Central America. (Max Becherer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate).

In Alabama, the bridge linking the mainland to Dauphin Island was closed much of Sunday but was being reopened Monday. Police and state transportation department vehicles led convoys of motorists to and from the island when breaks in the weather permitted.

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The U.S. Coast Guard said it was searching for two people who went out in a 20-foot yellow boat near Slidell, Louisiana on Sunday afternoon and hadn’t returned. A helicopter and local officials were assisting in the search for Ted Roach and Jennifer Lingoni, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

READ MORE: Tropical depression Cristobal: What we know so far about the history-making storm

“The storm could have been a lot worse, I’m very thankful to say. We were largely spared,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

Cristobal provided the state with “a good test” of overall hurricane response and preparedness, particularly combined with ongoing COVID-19 response efforts, the governor said.

President Donald Trump agreed to issue an emergency declaration for Louisiana, officials said.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Rudy Horvath walks out of his home, a boathouse in the West End section of New Orleans, as it takes on water a from storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain in advance of Tropical Storm Cristobal, Sunday, June 7, 2020.In Florida, a tornado — the second in two days in the state as the storm approached — uprooted trees and downed power lines Sunday afternoon south of Lake City near Interstate 75, the weather service and authorities said. There were no reports of injuries. The storm also forced a waterlogged stretch of Interstate 10 in north Florida to close for a time Sunday.

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Associated Press reporters Gerald Herbert and Kevin McGill in New Orleans; Curt Anderson in St. Petersburg, Florida; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; and Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana contributed to this report.

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