Tropical Storm Cristobal will continue to slowly meaner and evolve over the next several days in the Gulf of Mexico before it approaches the the Gulf Coast; somewhere between the upper-Texas Coast and Louisiana.
Cristobal is currently churning over the very warm waters of the Bay of Campeche. The storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and dumping flooding rain across the Yucatan Peninsula. Cristobal is only moving at south at 3 mph due to weak steering currents. The weak steering currents are expected to remain in place through the end of the week. This will prevent the storm from moving too far in any direction.
Over the weekend, a channel (via the form of a break in the upper-level ridging over the Gulf States) will setup, allowing the storm to move north. The northward movement is expected to continue through the weekend, allowing Cristobal to likely move inland somewhere between the upper-Texas coast and Louisiana by late-weekend/early-next week; numerical guidance has narrowed on the aforementioned regions.
The National Hurricane Center has the cone extending from the upper-Texas coast east into coastal Mississippi with a landfall late-Sunday. This means all residents along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida need to remain on high alert as there is some uncertainty with the track of Cristobal.
The Gulf of Mexico waters are very warm, generally above 27°C, and this (along with favorable atmospheric conditions) should allow for gradual strengthening over the week, which will allow Cristobal to potentially approach hurricane status. Numerical guidance is suggesting a strong tropical storm with the potential for weak hurricane status. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Cristobal to become a strong tropical storm by Sunday afternoon.
It should be noted, regardless of the center moving inland, possibly somewhere between the upper-Texas coast and Louisiana, heavy rain will fall well east of the center of the storm. This means a large part of the Gulf States (from eastern Texas into Florida and Georgia) could see impacts from Cristobal. Make sure you have a plan in place and stay up-to-date with the latest forecasts on Cristobal.
Christopher Nunley is Meteorologist on Firsthand Weather, Lecturer in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University (MSU), and a PhD Candidate (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) at MSU. He earned his M.S. in Applied Meteorology at MSU, was an Assistant Cross Country Coach and taught at the University of North Texas, and was a Broadcast Meteorologist at KTEN-TV (just north of Dallas, Texas). Christopher’s main focus lies within teaching and inspiring prospective meteorology students, atmospheric research to further our understanding of atmospheric processes, and forecasting and analyzing extreme weather events to help save lives!