Tropical Depression Cristobal is currently spinning over eastern Mexico.
The system is expected to head toward the Gulf Coast of the United States this weekend, bringing flooding rain, coastal flooding, high surf, and strong winds.
Cristobal became the earliest third (‘C’) Atlantic storm of a given season — a record previously held by Tropical Storm Colin in 2016. In fact, last year, the ‘C’ storm didn’t develop until mid-August.
System Has Already Caused Extensive Damage in Mexico
Even before Cristobal became a tropical storm, it was already affecting parts of Mexico and Central America. Heavy rain and winds caused damage in at least seven Mexican states, and landslides were reported in 15 cities.
Flooding rain from the lingering storm triggered evacuation orders Tuesday in parts of Mexico’s Yucatán state. The state’s capital, Merida, is still facing flooded streets.
Parts of Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador could see another 10 to 15 inches of rain, bringing the total since Saturday to nearly 35 inches. The region could continue to see dangerous flash flooding and mudslides.
Cristobal weakened to a tropical depression by Thursday morning. But experts expect a tropical storm again once it moves out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Cristobal Expected to Hit U.S. Gulf Coast on Sunday
The latest forecast track has Tropical Depression Cristobal moving toward the northern Gulf Coast in the U.S. as soon as Sunday afternoon.
Though, impacts should begin to reach the Gulf Coast on Saturday, ahead of landfall.
Fortunately, experts don’t expect an intense hurricane. However, that does not mean that the storm won’t have serious impacts on the region.
“It looks like flooding will be the greatest threat from the storm and could occur over a wide area from Texas to Florida,” said CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen.
Meteorologists expect to see the system’s center ashore along the Louisiana coast, most likely.
“The highest winds, greatest storm surge, and heaviest rain may occur east of where Cristobal makes landfall,” Hennen continued. “So not only is the Louisiana coast at risk, but also Mississippi, Alabama, and well into the Florida Panhandle.”
As of Friday morning, the storm system had winds of 35 mph, and gusts of 45 mph, and was moving north-northeast at 7 mph.
“If the center cain maintain some structure,” said CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller, “then it will allow the storm to quickly strengthen once it reemerges into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.”