FORT MYERS, Fla. – Cristobal remained a tropical storm, with 40 mph winds, according to the 8 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
While making its U.S. landfall as a tropical storm remains likely, the chances of Cristobal growing into a low-end Category 1 hurricane are a possibility, WeatherTiger's chief meteorologist said.
But U.S. landfall intensity is heavily dependent on the next 48 hours.
Forecasters are expecting Cristobal to become a depression later today, but forecasts call for it to regain strength as it moves back into the Gulf of Mexico and then turning north toward the U.S. this weekend.
Most projections call for a landfall in Louisiana, but a few models put Cristobal farther east into Florida's Panhandle.Location: 70 miles southeast of Ciudad Del Carmen, Mexico Maximum sustained winds: 40 mph Movement: southeast at 2 mph Next advisory: 11 a.m.
At 8 a.m., the center of Tropical Storm Cristobal was 70 miles southeast of Ciudad Del Carmen, Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center advisory.
Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph, with higher gusts. Tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 60 miles from the center, primarily over water to the northwest of the center.
Cristobal is expected to weaken to a depression during the next several hours and then re-ntensify Friday.
The estimated minimum central pressure is 998 mb.
Where will Cristobal go next? How could it reach Category 1 status?
On Friday, Cristobal will begin to move north or north-northeast across the southern Gulf into a weakness between two ridges, one over the Southwest U.S. and the other in the western Atlantic, according to Ryan Truchelut, co-founder and chief meteorologist at WeatherTiger.
On this path, Cristobal will approach the Central Gulf Coast late in the weekend.
A high pressure system may bend Cristobal to the northwest as it nears the coast. Based on motion trends, Truchelut said he expected Cristobal to slip farther northeast than currently projected before that pivot occurs.
That would mean landfall Sunday or Monday in eastern Louisiana, with an uncertainty interval of Houston to Mobile, Truchelut said.
The flat terrain of the Yucatan peninsula won’t cause Cristobal to dissipate, but spending the next two days mostly over land will broaden the circulation and make it likely to remain a sprawling mid-range tropical storm.
If Cristobal spends less time over land than expected or reforms to the north soon, it may retain a stronger core, making a low-end Category 1 hurricane strength a possibility, Truchelut said.
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What kind of impact can Florida and the Gulf Coast expect from Cristobal?
There is a risk of storm surge, heavy rainfall and wind beginning over the weekend from Texas to the Florida Panhandle, according to the National Hurricane Center.
While winds along the immediate Central Gulf Coast of 40 to 60 mph are possible, Cristobal’s most significant impacts will be heavy rainfall along and well east of the track of the center, Truchelut said.
As we plan for a#Cristobal landfall in the northern Gulf of Mexico early Monday morning expect Tropcial Storm winds by early Sunday on the northern Gulf coast based on current expected intensity and wind field. Expect IMPACTS into Florida panhandle, well east of the track cone.pic.twitter.com/lPLmXnEM8q— Jim Cantore (@JimCantore)June 4, 2020
Mexico has been experiencing heavy rain from Cristobal, with some areas receiving up to 25 inches of rain.
Expect widespread 2- to- 4-inch accumulations, with totals up to 8 inches between coastal central Louisiana and the Florida Big Bend, Truchelut said.
Rainfall is likely to begin Saturday afternoon, be heaviest and steadiest on Sunday, and diminish on Monday in the Panhandle, though that timing is subject to change.
Some modest surge and coastal flooding impacts are expected along the central and eastern Gulf Coast.