Tropical Storm Cristobal Nears Gulf Coast

Meteorologists expect Tropical Storm Cristobal to make landfall on Sunday along the Gulf Coast. It is the third storm of the season to become strong enough to be named, with sustained wind speeds of 50 miles per hour as of Sunday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. Observers expect the storm to maintain that strength as it reaches land.

Tropical Storm Cristobal is making its way through the Gulf of Mexico right now, nearing the coast of Louisiana. All projections seem to show it landing somewhere between Marsh Island and Slidell, according to a report by CNN. Still, other parts of the Gulf Coast need to watch closely as well, since the storm system will have ripple effects on the weather throughout the area. Experts have issued Tropical storm warnings all along the coast of Louisiana, parts of Mississippi, parts of Alabama, and parts of the Florida panhandle.

"Do NOT focus on the center as impacts will occur outside of the cone, especially east of the center," warns the National Weather Service. "Heavy rainfall of 4-6 [inches] with higher amounts up to 10 [inches] possible for coastal Alabama and southeast Mississippi."

While the tropical storm-strength winds are not to be taken lightly, experts say the biggest threat posed by Cristobal is likely flooding. This weather event could impact communities hundreds of miles away from the storm's center — even in east coast states on the other side of Florida, such as Georgia and the Carolinas.

The squalls and storms brought on by Cristobal are likely to cause flash flooding all over the Southeast, and experts say that people should do whatever they need to do to prepare for that now. Many of these areas have been dealing with excessive rain for about a month already, so the area is saturated and primed for floods.

Unlike many tropical storms, Cristobal will not bounce off the coast and drift back out to sea. Instead, experts expect the storm to roughly follow the path of the Mississippi River, cutting right through the center of the United States and reaching the border of Canada by Wednesday afternoon. By then, it will be categorized as a "post-tropical cyclone."

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There is no telling what kind of impact Cristobal will have when it reaches inland states unaccustomed to tropical storm conditions, such as Wisconsin or Iowa. Experts believe it could bring tornadoes with it, posing a serious risk to people and property.

This tropical storm is just the beginning of a hurricane season that experts say will be very "active." As the U.S. is already contending with the coronavirus pandemic, economic fallout and social unrest, storm preparedness is more important than ever before.