Tropical Storm Cristobal
Tropical storm (SSHWS/NWS)
Cristobal 2020-06-03 1915Z.jpg
Tropical Storm Cristobal shortly after landfall in Campeche on June 3
FormedJune 1, 2020
DissipatedJune 11, 2020
(Extratropical after June 10)
Highest winds1-minute sustained: 60 mph (95 km/h)
Lowest pressure992 mbar (hPa); 29.29 inHg
Fatalities5 total
Damage$343 million (2020 USD)
Areas affectedCentral America, Mexico, Central United States, Eastern Canada
Part of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season

Tropical Storm Cristobal was the earliest third named storm in the North Atlantic Ocean on record, breaking the record set by Tropical Storm Colin in 2016, which formed on June 5. It is also the first Atlantic tropical cyclone to form in the month of June since Tropical Storm Cindy in 2017, and the first June tropical cyclone to make landfall in Mexico since Tropical Storm Danielle in 2016. The third named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Cristobal formed on June 1 over the Bay of Campeche from the remnants of Tropical Storm Amanda in the Eastern Pacific. Cristobal then made landfall in the state of Campeche at 13:35 UTC on June 3, 2020, with sustained winds of 60 mph (95 km/h), causing torrential rainfall throughout the region. It slowly curved northward over Mexico and progressed into the Gulf of Mexico. Cristobal then made a second landfall over southeastern Louisiana at 22:10 UTC on June 7, becoming the second-earliest tropical cyclone to make landfall in Louisiana. The system progressed north through the Mississippi Valley, managing to survive over land as a tropical depression until finally becoming extratropical over southern Wisconsin at 03:00 UTC on June 10 (10 pm CDT on June 9). This extratropical low then moved north past Lake Superior and to near James Bay, before heading northeastward toward the Labrador Sea.

Cristobal's large size led it to have impacts over much of Central America and southern Mexico, as well as the United States Gulf Coast and Midwest. Combined with Amanda, Cristobal led to nearly a week of devastating rainfall across Guatemala, El Salvador, and southern Mexico. Over 230,000 acres of crops were damaged in the Mexican state of Yucatán, leading to a damage estimate of US$184 million. The storm caused the deaths of several people in Mexico and El Salvador. Cristobal also caused multiple tornadoes and waterspouts along the U.S. Gulf Coast, and brought severe weather to the Midwestern U.S. and Eastern Canada. Altogether, Cristobal caused US$343 million in damage and five fatalities.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

On May 31, Tropical Storm Amanda, the first named storm of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season, formed off the coast of Guatemala and then made landfall a short while later.[1] Once inland, Amanda brought torrential rainfall to portions of Guatemala and El Salvador that produced flooding and landslides[2] as it rapidly weakened and dissipated. On June 1, as the system moved northward toward the Yucatán Peninsula, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) advised that in all likelihood Amanda's remnants would develop into an Atlantic tropical depression within the next few days.[1]

At 21:00 UTC that same day, the remnants re-developed into Tropical Depression Three in the Atlantic basin with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph (48 km/h).[3][4] Located over the Bay of Campeche, the depression proceeded to slowly intensify throughout the rest of the day. On the morning of June 2, a U.S. Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft investigated the depression and found the system to be very close to tropical storm strength.[5] Data from a subsequent midday flight indicated that wind speeds had increased to tropical storm force (40 mph (64 km/h)), so the cyclone was provided the name Cristobal.[6] This marked the earliest third named storm in the Atlantic, eclipsing the record set by Tropical Storm Colin in 2016 of June 5.[7][8]

Cristobal strengthened as it stayed nearly stationary in the Bay of Campeche the next day.[9] Its development was reinforced by the moisture and the persistent onshore flow across parts of Central America, steered by a large counter-clockwise wind pattern known as the Central American Gyre.[10][11] Afterward the storm began moving south, gaining strength quickly as it neared the Mexican coastline, becoming more symmetrical with its barometric pressures dropping. Later, at 13:35 UTC on June 3, reports from a Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicated that Cristobal had made landfall at peak strength near Atasta, Mexico, just to the west of Ciudad del Carmen, with sustained winds of 60 mph (97 km/h) and a central barometric pressure of 29.35 inches of mercury (994 mbar).[12][13] Cristobal, beginning to lose its convective activity, began to slowly weaken as the day went on while it pushed further southeast into the Mexican state of Campeche.[14]

At 16:00 UTC on June 4, Cristobal was downgraded to tropical depression status,[10] with its satellite appearance continuously degrading.[15] The depression lost most of its banding features due to prolonged interaction with land, and most of its convection was limited to the northeastern quadrant of the circulation.[16] Then near the northwestern tip of Guatemala,[10] Cristobal made a cyclonic loop, and moved back across the Yucatan Peninsula,[7] resulting in it getting better organized on satellite imagery.[17]

Tropical Storm Cristobal re-intensifying north of the Yucatán Peninsula on June 5

Cristobal exited the Yucatan on June 5 and entered the southern Gulf of Mexico. The much broader cyclone moved further north as dry air and interaction with an upper-level trough to the east began to strip Cristobal of any central convection, with most of the convection being displaced east and north of the center and thoroughly ridding Cristobal of a typical tropical cyclone structure.[7][18] Reconnaissance aircraft found Cristobal slightly stronger in the afternoon of June 6, despite being poorly organized.[19] Observations from the NHC suggested Cristobal resembled more of a subtropical cyclone than a tropical cyclone during this period, with the strongest winds and convection displaced well to the east of the center.[20] Tropical Storm Cristobal then made landfall on June 7 at 22:10 UTC in Southeast Louisiana, east of Grand Isle at its second peak strength of 50 mph (80 km/h);[21][22] the barometric pressure at landfall was 29.29 inches of mercury (992 mbar).[11]

Cristobal moved along the Mississippi Valley afterward, passing over Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa before being declared extratropical by the Weather Prediction Center at 03:00 UTC on June 10 while over southern Wisconsin,[23] the farthest northwest a fully tropical system had traveled in North America.[24] The storm was only the fourth tropical cyclone remnant on record to have moved over Wisconsin,[25] and the first since Gilbert in 1988. Green Bay, Wisconsin recorded an all-time low pressure observation for June when Cristobal caused readings to fall to 29.12 inches of mercury (986 mbar), breaking a mark set in 1917.[11]

Cristobal reached the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a post-tropical cyclone by the early morning hours of June 10,[26][27] and the last public advisory issued by the Weather Prediction Center on Cristobal came later that morning at 09:00 UTC.[28] Multiple June low pressure records fell as Cristobal passed through the Marquette area, as did high winds. A peak gust of 50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph) was recorded at the Stannard Rock Lighthouse, just southeast of the Keweenaw Peninsula, as the storm moved across Lake Superior toward Northern Ontario, Canada.[29][30] In doing so, it became the first known case of a tropical system encountering Lake Superior.[29][31] Two days later, the remnant low that was Cristobal crossed over Labrador[32] and later dissipated.



In expectation of high winds and heavy downpours, a tropical storm warning spanning from Campeche westward to Veracruz was issued by the government of Mexico on June 1.[33] A total of 9,000 Mexican soldiers and National Guard members were sent to assist with preparations and relief work.[34] Residents in several at-risk communities in the states of Tabasco, Campeche and Veracruz were evacuated on June 2. The Puerto Isla del Carmen terminal at the mouth of the Grijalva River was closed for vessels of all types as Cristobal approached; waves there reached up to 10 feet (3 meters) high on June 2.[35] On June 5, while Cristobal was downgraded to a tropical depression, a tropical storm watch was issued extending from Punta Herrero to Río Lagartos by the Mexican government.[36]

United States

With Cristobal tracking toward the state, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on June 4, and ordered evacuations for low-lying coastal areas.[37] On June 5, a tropical storm watch was issued from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border. A storm surge watch was also issued for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.[38] The town of Grand Isle, Louisiana, issued a mandatory evacuation order starting June 6 at 11:00 UTC, according to Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle.[39] President Donald Trump declared a federal state of emergency in Louisiana on June 7 as Cristobal approached landfall.[40] Additionally, flash flood and river flood watches were issued from Louisiana in the south to Wisconsin in the north due to rainfall estimates upward of 10–15 inches (250–380 mm) forecast in some areas, and impacting more than 15 million people.[41]


Mexico and Central America

The combined effects of Tropical Storm Amanda and Cristobal brought torrential rains to a large swath of Central America and Mexico. According to the National Hurricane Center, parts of the Pacific coasts of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico's Chiapas state picked up 20 in (510 mm) of rainfall.[42] The National Meteorological Service of Mexico reported that 26.3 in (667 mm) of rain fell in Ocotepec, Chiapas between May 30 and June 3.[43] Mérida, the capital of Yucatán, recorded 22.9 in (581.66 mm) in the same time frame. The widespread rainfall led to some significant flooding across the Yucatán Peninsula.[34] Some areas of Yucatán received a year's-worth of rain in four days.[44] Cristobal also caused minor damage to a PEMEX oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico and to the terminal at Isla del Carmen (near where it made landfall).[45]

At least 619 people were required to be evacuated due to the threat of incoming landslides and flash flooding and 16 individual landslides were reported across Campeche, Chiapas, and Yucatán.[46] Around 10,000 people were estimated to have been severely effected by flash flooding.[47] Agricultural damage in Campeche reached 40 million pesos (US$1.84 million).[48] One person drowned while trying to swim through 6.2 ft (1.9 m) floodwaters in Santa María, Yaxcabá.[49] Another person died in Chiapas when a tree fell on him.[50] A June 4 landslide in Zacatecoluca, La Paz, in south central El Salvador, killed 10 people.[34]

In Yucatán, 95,000 hectares (230,000 acres) of crops were damaged, which is about 85% of the total crops statewide. The costs were calculated at 4 billion pesos (US$184 million).[44] Further east, in Lázaro Cárdenas, Quintana Roo, the heavy rain from Cristobal caused flooding and damaged 10 hectares (25 acres) of papaya. Total loss were estimated at around 1 million pesos (US$46,000).[51]

United States

Tropical Storm Cristobal nearing landfall in Louisiana on June 7

Ahead of the storm's landfall, two children died in Louisiana after being pulled to sea by a rip current,[52] and a third drowned in Texas due to the rough surf.[53] A 5 ft (1.5 m) storm surge caused flooding along much of the Louisiana coast, and flooded the only road leading to and out of Grand Isle, which was under a mandatory evacuation.[22] Torrential rainfall and the storm surge caused a flood event in Grand Isle said to have been the worst since Hurricane Isaac in 2012.[54] A large portion of Louisiana Highway 1 was completely flooded and inaccessible throughout June 7, and around 4,000 power outages occurred across New Orleans on that same day.[54] Infrastructural damage to southern Louisiana incurred a damage estimate near US$150 million.[55]

In Florida, multiple tornado warnings were issued and at least six tornadoes were confirmed in the state between June 6 and June 7 from Cristobal's outer rainbands.[52][56] A destructive EF-1 tornado struck areas just east of Downtown Orlando, starting as a waterspout over Lake Conway before moving ashore, damaging or uprooting multiple trees, some of which fell onto homes.[57][58] However, the heavy rainfall from Cristobal relieved a seasonal drought in the state, where some parts of North Florida recorded over 10 inches (254 mm) of rain in just a day.[59]

In Mississippi near where Cristobal made landfall, several weather observation sites reported strong tropical storm-force winds.[60] A Weatherflow site on Ship Island, Mississippi, observed a sustained wind of 48 mph (78 km/h) and a gust to 64 mph (104 km/h), which was the peak wind gust reported during landfall in the United States.[61] Flooding became severe over Mississippi following Cristobal’s landfall, and a state of emergency was declared by Mississippi governor Tate Reeves on June 10 to help speed up relief efforts; preliminary damage estimates in the state reached US$5.2 million.[62]

Remnants of Cristobal merging with frontal system early on June 10 as it brings severe thunderstorms to Michigan and Ontario.

Downgraded to a tropical depression, Cristobal merged with another storm system coming from the west, bringing torrential rainfall and gusty winds across the Midwestern states.[63][64][65] The system brought stormy weather to the Great Lakes Region, accompanied by strong winds and high waves along the north end of Green Bay, especially across Big Bay de Noc in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.[31] Data retrieved at 06:00 UTC on June 10 from the GPM satellite found the heaviest rainfall occurring in two areas: north and west of Lake Superior, north of Rossport and Red Rock, Ontario, Canada; and over Georgian Bay on the eastern side of Lake Huron. In both places, rain was falling at rates of 1 inch (25 mm) per hour.[26]

The large volume of moisture dragged behind Post-Tropical Cyclone Cristobal as it moved to the north prompted a rare moderate risk of severe thunderstorms to be issued for large portions of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio by the Storm Prediction Center in their categorical outlook.[66][67] A squall line associated with Cristobal's remnants, later classified as a derecho,[67][68] brought wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) around the areas; 650,000 people lost power due to the derecho from Indiana and Michigan to western New York.[69][70] The derecho produced a damaging EF-2 tornado in Beaver County, Pennsylvania[71] and two EF-0 tornadoes in Columbiana County, Ohio on June 10.[72][73]


The same thunderstorm line also impacted Southern Ontario and Western Quebec.[74] More than 43,000 households lost electrical power in Ontario.[75] In Quebec, the winds resulted in over 130,000 households losing power, about half of which were located in the Greater Montreal Area.[76]

Fierce winds and torrential rain accompanied by hail stormed through the District of Muskoka, causing much damage. Wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) were reported at the airport in Bracebridge.[77] Also, EF-1 tornadoes touched down near Bracebridge and Baysville, as did an EF-2 near Mary Lake.[74][78] Two additional tornadoes struck the London area, an EF-0 in Glencoe and an EF-1 in Belmont.[79][80]

See also


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External links