MIAMI (AP) — A re-energized Tropical Storm Cristobal advanced toward the U.S. Gulf Coast early Saturday, bringing with it the heavy rains that already caused flooding and mudslides in Mexico and Central America.
After weakening to a tropical depression while moving over land in Mexico’s Gulf coast, Cristobal headed back into the southern Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula on Friday and powered back up into a tropical storm. Forecasters said it would arrive on U.S. soil late Sunday but was not expected to grow into a hurricane.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 7 a.m. advisory Saturday that the storm was expected to slowly strengthen until it makes landfall, expected Sunday night along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Tropical storm-force winds could arrive as early as Saturday evening.
Cristobal’s maximum sustained winds had strengthened to 50 mph (85 kph) by early Saturday and it was moving north at 12 mph (19 kph). The storm was centered about 365 miles (590 kilometers) south of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The Hurricane Center said the storm could cause heavy rains from East Texas to Florida this weekend and into early next week. A tropical storm watch was posted for the northern Gulf of Mexico coast from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border.
In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency to prepare for the storm’s possible arrival.
“Now is the time to make your plans, which should include the traditional emergency items along with masks and hand sanitizer as we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic,” Edward said in a statement released Thursday.
Cristobal formed this week in the Bay of Campeche from the remnants of Tropical Storm Amanda, which had sprung up last weekend in the eastern Pacific and hit Central America. The two storms combined to soak the region with as much as 35 inches (89 centimeters) of rain in some areas over the past week. At least 30 deaths have been attributed to the two storms and the flooding and landslides they unleashed.
In Bacalar, in the south of Mexico’s Quintana Roo state, 230 families were isolated by the rains and had to be airlifted out, David Leon, Mexico’s national civil defense coordinator, said Friday. Leon added there had been light damage in 75 municipalities in seven states.