Cristobal Weakens To A Tropical Depression

At 11:00 AM AST, Thursday 4th June 2020, Tropical Storm Cristobal weakened into a tropical depression as it moves inland across the Yucutan Peninsula.

At 5:00 PM AST, the center of Tropical Depression Cristobal was located near latitude 17.5 North, longitude 90.8 West.

The depression is moving toward the east-southeast near 3 MPH (6 KM/H). A turn toward the east and northeast is expected tonight, and a subsequent generally northward motion should occur through Sunday.

On the forecast track, the center will move over extreme northwestern Guatemala and eastern Mexico tonight and Friday. The center is forecast to move back over the southern Gulf of Mexico late Friday, over the central Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, and approach the northern Gulf of Mexico coast Sunday and Sunday night.

Maximum sustained winds are near 35 MPH (55 KM/H) with higher gusts. Some additional weakening is possible overnight. Re-intensification is expected to begin late Friday.

The estimated minimum central pressure is 999 millibars.

This is the third named storm for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which officially began yesterday, June 1st. Cristobal’s formation is also the third earliest formation of a named tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin since records began.

Tropical Depression Cristobal Forecast Cone as of 5:00 PM AST Thursday 4th June 2020. Credit: National Hurricane Center
Tropical Depression Cristobal Forecast Cone as of 5:00 PM AST Thursday 4th June 2020. Credit: National Hurricane Center

Watches & Warnings

Tropical Depression Cristobal Watches and Warnings as of 5:00 PM AST Thursday 4th June 2020. Credit: National Hurricane Center

There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

Interests along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico should monitor the progress of Cristobal. A tropical storm watch and a storm surge watch may be required for a portion of the area tonight or Friday.

Hazards Affecting Land

Tropical Depression Cristobal Key Messages as of 5:00 PM AST Thursday 4th June 2020. Credit: National Hurricane Center
Tropical Depression Cristobal Key Messages as of 5:00 PM AST Thursday 4th June 2020. Credit: National Hurricane Center
Tropical Depression Cristobal Key Messages as of 5:00 PM AST Thursday 4th June 2020. Credit: National Hurricane Center

RAINFALL: Cristobal is expected to produce the following rain accumulations through Saturday:

  • Mexican states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatan: Additional 5 to 10 inches (125 – 250 mm), isolated storm totals of 25 inches (635 mm).
  • Belize and the Mexican states of Tabasco, Veracruz and
    Oaxaca: Additional 2 to 4 inches (50 – 100 mm)
  • Southern Guatemala and parts of Chiapas: Additional 10 to 15 inches (250 – 380 mm), isolated storm total amounts of 35 inches (890 mm) dating back to Saturday, May 30th.
  • El Salvador: Additional 5 to 10 inches (125 – 500 mm), isolated storm total amounts of 35 inches (890 mm) dating back to Saturday, May 30th.
  • Southern parts of Honduras: Additional 3 to 6 inches (75 – 150 mm), isolated 10 inches (250 mm).

Rainfall in all of these areas may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Heavy rainfall will spread into portions of the Gulf Coast, from east Texas to Florida, this weekend into early next week, with areas of flash flooding possible.

This system is of no threat to the Windward Islands, including Trinidad and Tobago.

Tropical Depression Cristobal Forecast Discussion

Tropical Depression Cristobal just inland across Mexico. Image: Weathernerds.org

The cyclone’s cloud pattern is quite disorganized, with little deep convection near the center. The current intensity estimate is 30 kt, although this may be generous. Since the center should remain over land into Friday morning, some additional weakening could occur during the next 12-24 hours. A re-intensification trend is expected to commence in 36 hours, assuming that the center moves back into the Gulf of Mexico by then. As noted earlier, the atmospheric environment over the Gulf is not particularly conducive for strengthening, with moderate southwesterly shear and some mid-level dry air.

There are a number of arc clouds noted in satellite images over the Gulf at this time, which is indicative of drier air at mid-levels. As in the earlier advisories, the NHC intensity forecast is higher than the model consensus. Due to the limitations in tropical cyclone intensity prediction, there is some uncertainty in the strength of Cristobal when it reaches the northern Gulf coast.

The system is turning to the left as it executes a partial cyclonic loop within a broad gyre. Beginning tomorrow night, Cristobal should head northward over the Gulf into a weakness in the subtropical ridge. There has not been much change in the official track forecast, which follows the simple and corrected dynamical model consensus. The ECMWF model does show a little more shift to the left in 3-4 days which is also reflected in the NHC track. This should not be considered as a significant change, however, especially for a broad cyclone such as this one.

The global models indicate that Cristobal’s wind field will expand as the cyclone moves over the Gulf of Mexico, and this is reflected in the official wind radii forecast. This suggests that when the storm reaches the northern Gulf coast, the worst conditions may occur at a large distance from the center.

Key Messages:

  1. Damaging and deadly flooding has already been occurring in portions of Mexico and Central America. Cristobal is expected to produce additional extreme rainfall amounts through the end of the week. The heaviest additional rainfall is expected over far southern Mexico and portions of the Yucatan Peninsula, while also extending along the Pacific coast from Chiapas to Guatemala and El Salvador. This rainfall could cause widespread life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. Refer to products from your local weather office for more information.
  2. Cristobal is forecast to re-emerge over the southern Gulf of Mexico on Friday and move northward over the central and northern Gulf of Mexico over the weekend. There is a risk of tropical-storm-force winds this weekend from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle and a risk of dangerous storm surge from Louisiana to the Florida Big Bend. These hazards, along with heavy rainfall, will arrive well in advance of and extend well east of Cristobals center. Tropical storm and storm surge watches could be issued tonight or Friday.

Forecast Discussion by Forecaster Pasch from the NHC.

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