Hurricane season officially began Monday, as the Texas coast already braces for its first tropical storm, or even hurricane, expected to hit land early next week.
Tropical Storm Cristobal, the third storm of this hurricane season, formed Tuesday afternoon off the coast of Mexico. Texas forecasters expect the storm to make landfall by Tuesday, between the Texas and Louisianan coastlines.
Sarah Barnes, a Fort Worth meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the storm will bring heavy rainfall to the area, along with the potential for flash flooding, thunderstorms, damaging winds, and tornadoes.
This storm began as a tropical depression with heavy rainfall and flooding over Mexico and Central America. On Tuesday, winds reached 40 mph. The storm is starting to move north up the coast. If it moves quickly, it could reach the United States by Friday, instead of early next week. Most forecasters believe the system is heading towards the Texas-Louisiana coastline, but it still could turn and head east towards the Florida panhandle.
Cristobal formed two days after Tropical Storm Amanda, hitting land Sunday and killing 17 people in El Salvador and Guatemala.
Those living in threatened areas should continue to monitor the progress of this system through the week and have a hurricane plan in place. Local residents should plan now for extreme weather, including a plan to escape and shelter-in place.
Due to COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also advise preparing a “go-kit” of essential items, including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Local officials will recommend where and when to seek shelter while practicing social distancing.
“This season’s predictions are 60 percent above average of a normal season predictions,” Barnes said. “Welcome to 2020.”
Federal forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last month also predicted an active season for 2020 for the Atlantic Ocean, with as many as 19 named storms and six to 10 hurricanes. Three to six of those hurricanes are projected to reach a Category 3 major storm threshold or higher, Barnes said.