MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As of Tuesday afternoon, what was Tropical Depression 3 has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Cristobal.
New data from the National Hurricane Center tells us this system has sustained winds of 40 mph; it is currently located in the Bay of Campeche in the far southwestern portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
Now that this system has a Atlantic name, it is the earliest date of the Atlantic basin has had a third named storm! That is significant. In recorded history, there has never been three named storms in the Atlantic basin before June 5th... so it’s fair to say this year’s hurricanes season is off to a very fast start.
Where is the storm heading, though? That’s the big question everyone wants to know the answer to. Well, unfortunately, that isn’t set in stone yet. There are some complications with this particular storm that make forecasting its eventual path more difficult than normal.
In all likelihood, the system will meander -- perhaps do a small loop -- in the Bay of Campeche over the next few days. As it does this, it is forecast to strengthen to a mid-range tropical storm.
It should be noted that it is possible the system moves back inland over Mexico before re-emerging over the Bay of Campeche as it hangs out through midweek. Should this occur, it’s possible it becomes Cristobal, moves inland and weakens, moves back over the water, strengthens again, and receives the next name on the list. If this happens, it would then become Dolly!
As the upper-level pattern evolves and shifts later this week, things will “open up” and allow what will be Tropical Storm Cristobal (or perhaps Dolly) by this point to move northward into the central Gulf of Mexico.
However, that won’t happen until later in the day Saturday. This storm is in absolutely no rush at all to move. By Sunday and into early next week, the system is finally expected to move northwestward toward the coasts of Texas and Louisiana.
Supplying a landfall strength, date and location is nearly impossible this early on, but folks with interests along the Gulf Coast need to monitor the progress and development of Tropical Depression Three.
That is especially true from Houston to New Orleans as most forecast models indicate a bigger impact and landfall in that general region early next week. For central and southern Alabama, impacts look to be increased rain and storm chances, possibly some breezy winds and a jump in humidity/moisture by Sunday.
Stay tuned as this is a very fluid situation!