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It will likely linger in the southern Gulf for most of this week before a potential turn northward into the central Gulf this weekend.
NEW ORLEANS — Tropical Depression 3 has strengthened into Tropical Storm Cristobal in the southern Gulf of Mexico, or Bay of Campeche.
This is the earliest third named storm on record in the Atlantic Basin. The previous record was Tropical Storm Colin which formed on June 5, 2016.
Observations from the Hurricane Hunters Tuesday morning indicate that the depression strengthened into a tropical storm.
Winds are 40 mph and it is slowly moving to the southwest at 3 mph. The forecast calls for Cristobal to stall in the Bay of Campeche through Friday while it slowly strengthens.
Then is expected to be pulled to the north by a trough of low pressure over the U.S. This will place it in the central Gulf of Mexico as a strong tropical storm on Sunday.
Looking ahead, the forecast models show Cristobal moving to the northern Gulf Coast late Sunday into Monday.
Depending on where this makes landfall, we could have some very heavy rain in New Orleans starting Sunday and lasting until Tuesday.
The official beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season was June 1. This season is predicted to be more active than average, due to factors like a potential La Nina event by September and warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures.
NOAA’s forecast issued on May 21 predicts 13-19 named storms of which 6-10 would be hurricanes and 3-6 would be major hurricanes (of Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale).
Tropical Storm Arthur and Tropical Storm Bertha which formed in May were the first two named storms of the year in the Atlantic. This is the sixth year in a row with a named storm forming earlier than the official start of hurricane season.
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2020 Hurricane Season forecast to be active
The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1st and predictions are being made.
Colorado State University predicts an above-normal season. The forecast calls for 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes ( category 3 or higher). A normal season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
Typically when we have an El Nino wind shear is stronger and hurricane season can be less active. The reason for this above-normal forecast is the due to the lack of El Nino expected and the possibility that La Nina develops. This could lead to weaker wind shear over areas where tropical cyclones form.
Here’s a look at the chance our area will see impacts from a hurricane this season. The chance that Louisiana will see impacts from a hurricane currently sits around 43%. That’s lower for Mississippi at 17%. The chance a major hurricane will hit somewhere along the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas is 44%. That’s up from 30% during a normal season.
Remember, it only takes one storm for it to be an active season for our area. The Gulf Coast has seen impacts during quiet seasons and no impacts during busy seasons. It’s important to have a plan regardless of the forecast.