Weaker Cristobal forecast to turn north toward U.S. Friday

June 5 (UPI) — Tropical Depression Cristobal was forecast to change directions early Friday, turning north and beginning its track toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Late Friday and into the weekend, forecasters say the storm will track northward through the western Gulf of Mexico and toward the United States.

As this happens, rainfall will begin to diminish across southeastern Mexico and Central America. However, rough seas may linger along Mexico’s Gulf coast through the weekend.

Thursday, Cristobal dumped heavy rains on southeastern Mexico and Central America, bringing with it the risk of life-threatening flooding to the region.

Flooding and mudslide dangers are expected to continue as the large system slowly meanders across the region through the end of the week.

After spending some time over land during the middle of the week, Cristobal was downgraded to a tropical depression Thursday. The storm’s maximum sustained winds were 35 mph as of 4 a.m. CDT Friday, just 4 mph shy of tropical storm status, and it was located 80 miles southeast of Campeche, Mexico.

Despite the loss in wind strength, Cristobal is still expected to bring widespread impacts to southern Mexico and Central America.

Tropical storm warnings that were in effect across the Mexico coastline, from Veracruz to Campeche, were discontinued by the government of Mexico on Thursday morning. However, flooding dangers remained a serious risk both along the coast and well inland due to the sprawling nature of the system.

In Mexico, reports of flooding in the streets have emerged from the state of Tabasco all the way through the Yucatan Peninsula.

The city of Valladolid in Yucatan has recorded more than 16 inches since Sunday and Campeche reported more than 7 inches. Winds and torrential rains in Campeche caused structural damage and washed out roadways.

Even farther west, Tuxtla reported 8.7 inches of rain since Sunday, and 7.4 inches fell in Villahermosa.

A total of 9,000 soldiers and National Guard members were put in position to help with preparations and relief work.

Farther south, Central America continued to be hammered by additional rounds of tropical rainfall.

A highway on the Yucatan was reported to be flooded with rushing floodwaters.

“Cristobal continues to pull in moisture from the East Pacific Ocean into northern areas of Central America, drenching the region with heavy, tropical rainfall even a week after Tropical Storm Amanda made landfall,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller.

Over 26 inches of rain fell over Ocotepec, Chiapa, from May 30 to June 3, according to the national meteorological service of Mexico.

On Thursday evening, reports came in that heavy rain caused a landslide in El Salvador and affected several homes and vehicles. At least 10 people were reported missing in Zacatecoluca, including seven from the same family.

Parts of Nicaragua and Honduras will also endure another round of heavy rainfall through the end of the week.

The excessive rainfall is forecast to continue through Friday, before Cristobal pulls northward into the Gulf of Mexico and away from the region, despite Cristobal being downgraded to a tropical depression as AccuWeather meteorologists predicted.

The risk of life-threatening flooding and mudslides will persist, with some locations expected to receive over 2 feet of rain.

Due to the serious flood threat from Cristobal over southern Mexico and northern Central America, Cristobal has been designated as a 1 on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes. This rating applies to the storm’s impacts on Mexico.

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