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Tropical storm Cristobal a possible landfall threat to Gulf coast


Tropical storm Cristobal has formed in the Bay of Campeche as the third named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Cristobal is forecast to head into the Gulf of Mexico, with a course towards the United States Gulf Coast and a landfall as a strengthening tropical storm, or perhaps even as hurricane Cristobal, now seen as a possibility.

Updated 07:00 BTS Jun 3rd: Tropical storm Cristobal has formed out of a low pressure remnant that formed after a Pacific tropical storm named Amanda crossed over Central American country of Guatemala and crossed Mexico.

Once the low pressure remnant emerged over the Bay of Campeche it became a tropical depression and then was soon upgraded to tropical storm Cristobal.

Tropical storm Cristobal is currently packing 60 mph sustained winds and higher gusts, with minimum central pressure of 994 mb.

Having spent recent hours circling close to the Mexican coastline, Cristobal has shifted southeast and is likely to make landfall crossing the southern Bay of Campeche coast later today. After a time inland, the forecast models show Cristobal moving back north and emerging back over the Bay of Campeche around Thursday night and into Friday.

Forecast models then show Cristobal moving steadily north across the Gulf, which does mean it could be the first landfall threat to insurance and reinsurance market interests of the 2020 Atlantic storm season.

The storm is now forecast to head slowly out into the Gulf of Mexico after meandering for a time near the shore, with strengthening likely and many forecast models are showing storm Cristobal heading towards the U.S. Gulf Coast and strengthening, with a slim chance currently of reaching hurricane status before its arrival.

Tropical storm Cristobal forecast path and track

The immediate threat is severe rainfall to Mexico, with totals of 10 to 20 inches and isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches expected over parts of the Mexican states of Tabasco and Campeche.

More broadly, 10 to 15 inches of rain is expected over parts of the Mexican states of Chiapas, Veracruz, Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Oaxaca, while rainfall of 10 to 15 inches, with isolated amounts of 25 inches, is expected along the Pacific coasts of Chiapas, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

Some of these Pacific areas have already experienced up to 20 inches of rain, so ground is sodden and there is a risk of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

After tropical storm Cristobal emerges back into the Gulf there remains significant uncertainty over how well organised it will be and whether it will make it to the U.S., the probability appears to have declined overnight.

Many forecast models continue to point towards a more central Gulf Coast landfall scenario, but there is still significant uncertainty and range in the forecast path for Cristobal, as well as in terms of potential intensity.

You can view a recent forecast model run showing the intensity guidance for tropical storm Cristobal below, sourced from

It clearly shows there remains some potential for steady intensification of tropical storm Cristobal’s winds as it moves across the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico towards the United States.

At this time, there is great uncertainty over how strong Cristobal could become, whether it can reach hurricane force winds and also where precisely the landfall location might be (if it even makes it to the Gulf Coast shoreline).

It’s important to stress just how uncertain this is right now, but also that insurance and reinsurance interests should certainly watch Cristobal closely as it heads north.

This should all become clearer over the coming days, as more certainty will be gained from the forecasts as storm Cristobal moves away from the Mexican coast and heads north across the warm Gulf waters.

Track the 2020 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season on our dedicated page and we’ll update you as new information emerges of relevance to insurance, reinsurance and ILS markets.

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