TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Cristobal remains a mid-grade tropical storm with winds sustained at 50 mph. While conditions have been deteriorating overnight with outer rain bands coming ashore in the central Gulf, tropical-storm-force winds should arrive in the next few hours to the western Florida panhandle, southern Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
Landfall occurred around 6:10 p.m. and no further strengthening is forecast. Cristobal’s structure remains asymmetric with strong storms well to the east of the center. Florida has been experiencing tropical downpours for several days even though the center of the storm is in the middle of the Gulf over 400 miles away. Heavy rain will continue in the southeast along and east of the Mississippi River today with totals up to 10 inches.
Several Tornado Warnings have been issued for weakly rotating storms Saturday and early Sunday morning. The threat for isolated tornadoes will continue in eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Florida Sunday as the storm makes landfall.
Coastal flooding and storm surge are possible with onshore winds pushing water up along the coast. The biggest concern will be at high tides today. Strong rip currents are occurring along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Louisiana. High seas and rough surf are also ongoing with Cristobal churning up the waters. The NHC storm surge forecast can be found here.
Flood Watches are also in effect. 10-12 inches of rain is possible in the New Orleans region. Locally higher amounts are likely where storms repeatedly move over the same areas. Flash flooding along with river flooding will be likely near and just east of the center of Cristobal.
Cristobal will dissipate as it moves ashore before merging with a system farther north. The system will still bring tropical moisture north and create flooding concerns up the Mississippi River Valley and the Northern Plains.