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U.S. Gulf states prepare for dangerous impacts from Tropical Storm Cristobal

Saturday, June 6th 2020, 9:13 pm - Though Cristobal briefly weakened, it has once again strengthened to tropical storm status and is on a path to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Cristobal -- the earliest third-named storm on record -- has once again reached tropical storm status, and remains on track to impact the U.S. Gulf Coast states on the weekend.

As of 7 p.m. CDT Saturday, the storm boasted maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h with higher gusts. It is moving northward at 19 km/h, and is expected to continue this directional track for the next day or so, followed by a gradual turn to the northwest.

On its current forecast track, the Cristobal's centre will be near the northern Gulf of Mexico coast on Sunday. The centre is then forecast to move inland across Louisiana late Sunday through Monday morning and northward across Arkansas and Missouri in the afternoon through Tuesday.

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SEE ALSO: Forecasters predict active Atlantic hurricane season ahead

Some slow strengthening is forecast until landfall occurs on the northern Gulf coast. Weakening will begin once Cristobal moves inland late Sunday and Monday.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect in the U.S. for Intracoastal City, La., to the Okaloosa/Walton counties in Florida, as well as lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas.

Meanwhile, a storm surge warning is in place, from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Miss., and Lake Borgne, while a watch is in effect east of Morgan City, La., to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Cristobal is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 100 to 200 mm across the eastern and central Gulf Coast into the Lower Mississippi Valley, with isolated amounts of 300 mm possible. Isolated significant river flooding is possible along the central Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, rainfall totals of 50 to 100 mm, with local amounts to 150 mm, is expected across the mid-Mississippi Valley.

"This rainfall may lead to flash flooding and widespread flooding on smaller streams across the lower to mid-Mississippi Valley," the NHC warns.

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As well, the storm may spawn a few tornadoes may on Sunday across southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southwest Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.

In Mexico, additional rainfall totals of 25 to 75 mm are expected across the Mexican states of Quintana Roo and Yucatan, bringing isolated storm totals to 635 mm. This will continue the threat of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

READ: Forecasters predict active Atlantic hurricane season ahead

Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University, says that this is the earliest date for an Atlantic third-named storm to form since record-keeping began in 1851.

Experts at Colorado State University are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season and cite the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor.

Additionally, tropical and subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are currently warmer than normal and are consequently also considered a factor favouring an active Atlantic hurricane season this year.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there is a 60 per cent chance of an above-normal hurricane season, a 30 per cent chance of a near-normal season and only a 10 per cent chance of a below-normal season. The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1 and ends on November 30.

WHERE ARE TROPICAL SYSTEMS LIKELY TO DEVELOP IN THE MONTH OF JUNE?

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