Tropical Storm Cristobal is expected to slowly weaken over 48 hours, and will likely become a tropical depression by Thursday evening, before restrengthening Friday when it is expected to begin to make a move north in the direction of the U.S. Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Cristobal, which made landfall in the Mexican state of Campeche early Wednesday, could potentially reach the Gulf Coast by Sunday or Monday, according to the NHC’s latest public advisories.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Cristobal was located about 20 miles east of Ciudad del Carmen, near the Bay of Campeche, moving southeast at 3 mph. Maximum sustained winds have dropped from 60 mph to 50 mph, with tropical storm-force winds extending outward up to 60 miles from the center of the storm. Gusts of 55 mph were reported Wednesday afternoon.

The storm’s cone of probability Storm Cristobal, which shows the range of potential paths it could take, now includes the entire Louisiana coast, as well as parts of neighboring Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and perhaps the Florida Panhandle, according to the 5 p.m. public advisory.

“There’s still a possibility that Cristobal could stay over land long enough where we’re forecasting it to weaken back to a depression,” said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the Miami-based National Hurricane Center. “In a perfect world we’d like that to take care of it, but the guidance suggests it will move back over water.”

If this path were to hold, it would see Cristobal ultimately heading north across the Gulf of Mexico to Louisiana. That said, it was still early, and forecasters warned that long-range tropical weather forecasts are always subject to change.

“Right now it’s way, way, way too early to determine the exact locations, the timing, the magnitude of those impacts,” he said.LIVE WEATHER RADAR: Follow the storm’s impact on South Florida »

Affected areas could be at risk of storm surge, rainfall, and wind.

“Cristobal is forecast to begin moving northward across the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, and there is a risk of storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts this weekend along portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Texas to the Florida Panhandle,” the hurricane center said Wednesday.

“Right now, the homework assignment for everybody in the area along the north Gulf Coast would be to monitor the progress of the storm and make sure they have their hurricane plan in place,” Feltgen said.MAP: Here’s the latest forecast path of Tropical Storm Cristobal »

The storm is forecast to stay close to the warm Gulf waters, which allow it to maintain its strength. But some models have Cristobal moving as far island as Guatemala. If that happens Cristobal would weaken considerably, with a “more expansive wind field,” the hurricane center said.

Cristobal is expected to produce extreme rainfall through the week’s end.

“The biggest concern going on is over portions of Mexico and Central America,” Feltgen said. “The rainfall, sadly, down there is being measured in feet not inches.”

Heavy rain with the possibility of life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides is expected this week in southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, and western Honduras. By Tuesday, parts of Guatemala and El Salvador had already seen deadly flooding.

Rain accumulations of 10 to 20 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches, is expected over parts of southern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.

“They have it moving to the north eventually, but not until much, much later into early next week,” National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Frye said of the system’s projected path. “The steering currents are just so light down there right now, and that’s why it’s kind of meandering, which is bad news for Mexico because they’re getting a lot of rain from it.”

“It should mingle down there for a little bit causing a lot of flooding and a lot of bad weather there for portions of Mexico,” Frye said.National Hurricane Center✔@NHC_Atlantic

Tropical Storm #Cristobal Advisory 8A: Cristobal Moving Slowly Over Land Near Ciudad Del Carmen Mexico. Continues to Produce Heavy Rains and Life-Threatening Flooding. 153Twitter Ads info and privacy120 people are talking about this

Cristobal is the third named storm of 2020 in the Atlantic. Both Arthur and Bertha formed ahead of June 1, the official start of hurricane season. It’s also the earliest C-name storm in recorded history, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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It broke the record previously held by Tropical Storm Colin, which formed on June 5, four days after the start of the 2016 hurricane season.

The storm formed from the remnants of Tropical Storm Amanda, which formed briefly in the Pacific, off the coast of Central America and dissipated after making landfall in Guatemala. It is rare for a Pacific tropical system to regenerate as an Atlantic storm.NOAA hurricane forecast predicts busy 2020 season »

“Cristobal will be fighting marginal water temperatures, but there’s also a lot of wind shear so that will keep this, at least, from growing into a monster,” Feltgen said. “But, having said that, there’s no such thing as ‘just a tropical storm.’ You can have very serious, even deadly impacts from a tropical storm as you can from a hurricane.”

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