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Cristobal Falling Apart, Still a Risk for Northern Gulf

Cristobal's path north into the Gulf.
Cristobal's path north into the Gulf.
National Hurricane Center

No one can accuse 2020 of not being interesting. The latest, of course, is the artist formerly known as Tropical Storm Cristobal, churning itself ragged over Mexico as this is being written. The early season storm — now a depression — spent most of Thursday over land, weakening it significantly. It is expected to spend much of Friday in roughly the same area before popping back out into the Gulf and steaming pretty quickly north.

The National Hurricane Center still does not expect Cristobal to reach hurricane strength before landfall, likely along the Louisiana coastline. In addition to the fact that it is being inhibited by land and won't spend much time over water, a mass of dry air to the west is forecast to wreak havoc with Cristobal as it moves northward.

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How long it spends over water depends on which forecast model you trust. The European model has it getting into the Gulf a little sooner and not making landfall until Monday morning. The American model has a disorganized blob former further east and reaching the U.S. coastline about 18 hours sooner. The former gives Cristobal a little more time to get its act together and also places it farther west near the Louisiana-Texas border.

Fortunately, even if Houston remains on the far western edge of the dreaded "cone of uncertainty," the vast majority of this storm's weather will be to the east of the center thanks to that disorganization and dry air. It is almost certain to bring heavy rainfall to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and even Florida. It appears Texas will remain on the dry side, though it will certainly increase our rain chances Sunday and Monday.

Cristobal does, however, provide a good warning signal for the rest of us that hurricane season is here.

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