NEW ORLEANS — Tropical Storm Cristobal is losing some organization as it sits over the western Yucatan Peninsula. Winds are down to 40 mph and the wind field is expanding as it weakens over land. It will remain over land all day, but it is expected to emerge back over the Bay of Campeche or southern Gulf of Mexico on Friday.
Once it is back over water it is expected to strengthen back into a tropical storm. Then it is forecast to get pushed north by stronger southerly winds. Cristobal will be in the central Gulf of Mexico on Saturday morning. The forecast then takes it north across the Gulf toward the Louisiana Coast by Sunday night to early Monday morning as a tropical storm. It will be battling wind shear, slight cooler water temperatures and dry air. This will prevent it from getting too strong.
On this track we will have plenty of heavy rain that could lead to some flash flooding across Southeast Louisiana starting Saturday and lasting until Tuesday. Early rainfall total estimates show we could get 6-10"+ of rain.
A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect until Tuesday morning. Rain fall rates could be around 2-4" per hour in some of the rain bands, and that will lead to flooding issues.
TRACKING CRISTOBAL: Latest track, radar, and spaghetti models
As for direct impacts from Cristobal... if it turns north into the central Gulf and makes its way toward the Gulf Coast this weekend, we may get:
- heavy rain bands from Saturday night through Monday
- coastal flooding Saturday and Sunday
- tropical-storm-force winds Sunday and Monday
- possibility of a few brief tornadoes Sunday and Monday if the system makes landfall to our west.
There is still some uncertainty with the forecast until it moves back over the water. The forecast still depends on where Cristobal heads which could be anywhere from Texas to the Florida Gulf Coast.
Regardless, we do expect the moisture from the southern Gulf of Mexico to surge north through early next week. This mean heavy rain seems like a guarantee at this point.
Check back for updates as the forecast will continue to evolve.
The official beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season was June 1. This season is predicted to be more active than average, due to factors like a potential La Nina event by September and warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures.
NOAA's forecast issued on May 21 predicts 13-19 named storms of which 6-10 would be hurricanes and 3-6 would be major hurricanes (of Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale).
Tropical Storm Arthur and Tropical Storm Bertha which formed in May were the first two named storms of the year in the Atlantic. This is the sixth year in a row with a named storm forming earlier than the official start of hurricane season.
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2020 Hurricane Season forecast to be active
The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1st and predictions are being made.
Colorado State University predicts an above-normal season. The forecast calls for 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes ( category 3 or higher). A normal season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
Typically when we have an El Nino wind shear is stronger and hurricane season can be less active. The reason for this above-normal forecast is the due to the lack of El Nino expected and the possibility that La Nina develops. This could lead to weaker wind shear over areas where tropical cyclones form.
Here's a look at the chance our area will see impacts from a hurricane this season. The chance that Louisiana will see impacts from a hurricane currently sits around 43%. That's lower for Mississippi at 17%. The chance a major hurricane will hit somewhere along the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas is 44%. That's up from 30% during a normal season.
Remember, it only takes one storm for it to be an active season for our area. The Gulf Coast has seen impacts during quiet seasons and no impacts during busy seasons. It's important to have a plan regardless of the forecast.