Tropical Storm Cristobal is pushing off the Mexican coast back out into the Gulf this Friday afternoon and in doing so is starting to intensify and show much better organization compared to Thursday.
This intensification was expected and the overall forecast seems to be coming together, and will continue to improve now that the storm is ejecting itself back into the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm is also picking up speed and the faster motion is captured in the National Hurricane Center forecast which continues to narrow the cone around the track as confidence in the forecast slowly builds.
Adhering to a trend that we're seeing with some of the latest model runs (which we'll discuss below) the track has slid slightly to the east, which would in turn push the most serious impacts east from roughly New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama.
That does not mean, however, that Acadiana will remain impact free.
Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for east Louisiana all the way to the Florida/Alabama coastline and includes the I-12 corridor and areas to the south, coastal Acadiana remains under a tropical storm watch.
There's also a Storm Surge Warning for the areas from Grand Isle through southeast Louisiana and into Mississippi.
Tropical storm force winds will likely be felt across the Gulf Coast, including here in Acadiana by the end of the weekend, with the worst of the winds located just to the east of the center.
At landfall it's expected that Cristobal will have winds sustained around 60 mph with those occurring to the eastern side of the center, and based off the current forecast most likely occurring in the south eastern corner of the state.
Acadiana though will still experience winds around 25-30 mph solidly through the day on Sunday with gusts that will be topping out higher than that likely getting into the 45-50 mph range.
Keep in mind that this is all track dependent and a westward slide to the west can easily pull those higher winds back into the region, especially right around the storm's center.
The arrival of these winds could be as early as Saturday night down along the coast line, but it seems the most reasonable arrival time would be sometime Sunday afternoon and evening.
Areas in south east Acadiana such as St. Mary Parish may see the earliest arrival of these winds, and may see some of the stronger wind gusts as well even if the center stays just to our east.
Rain is likely going to be the biggest issue with this system with wide spread areas picking up 7-8" of rain, and isolated areas probably just over a foot depending on where the most relentless rain sets up.
This again is largely going to be track dependent with most of the moisture from the storm pushed to the east of the center, June storms are largely asymmetrical and Cristobal seems to be no exception.
Based on the current forecast guidance Acadiana is looking on average around 2-6" inches of rain total with the possibility of about 8-12" if a persistent rain band starts to take shape.
It's confidence building to see that both the EURO and GFS look similar with highest rain totals east of Acadiana, particularly between New Orleans and Mobile Bay (Biloxi seems particularly hard hit in both scenarios).
As with all model images they should be used more as a guide to find patterns instead of zeroing in on one particular number.
Tropical systems always pose a threat for storm surge and this one is no exception with areas possibly seeing a 2-4' storm surge particularly for the south eastern half of the state.
Just like everything else storm surge will be track depended and based on the current modeling storm surge may primarily be an issue for the eastern half of the state, and if we get a sustained, strong north wind we may see the water lower out at Cypremort Point.
There is some indication that as the storm exits to the north we'll see a strong surge of moisture from the south with a strong southerly flow then pushing in from the Gulf of Mexico, this would make coastal flooding more of an issue on Monday and Tuesday as opposed to when the storm is arriving.
There's still some time to sort through the forecast and there's likely small tweaks to the forecast to come, but now that the storm is getting off of the Peninsula we can have a much better sense of what is to come.
The western Gulf of Mexico still has plenty of dry air working against the west edge of the storm, which will be a major factor in the structure of this system and part of the emphasis on the fact that this will be a mainly east sided storm.
A look at the water vapor imagery though not only shows how dry the west Gulf is but also how much deep moisture the eastern side of the storm will have to utilize to produce rain.
There's good agreement currently with both the GFS and the EURO model which is helping to build confidence in the track of the storm, intensity remains a challenge to forecast for but it's good to see the track coming together.
It seems as if even the short range models are coming together and closely resembling both the EURO and GFS in bringing the system on shore just to our east and pushing the worst of the weather out more to the eastern half of the state.
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