Tropical Depression Three Strengthens Into Tropical Storm Cristobal

Former Tropical Depression Three strengthened into Tropical Storm Cristobal on Tuesday.  At 12:15 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Tropical Storm Cristobal was located at latitude 19.3°N and longitude 92.7°W which put it about 75 miles (120 km) northwest of Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico.  Cristobal was moving toward the southwest at 3 m.p.h. (5 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1004 mb.

A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Campeche to Puerto de Veracruz, Mexico

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter plane investigating former Tropical Depression Three on Tuesday found sustained winds of 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and the National Hurricane Center designated the system as Tropical Storm Cristobal.  The formation of Tropical Storm Cristobal on June 2 is the earliest date for the formation on the third named storm over the Atlantic Basin (including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico) in the historical record.

The reconnaissance plane found that the circulation around Tropical Storm Cristobal was continuing to get better organized.  More thunderstorms were forming near the center of circulation.  Bands of showers were revolving around the center of Cristobal.  Storms near the center were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the east of the tropical storm.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out 40 miles (65 km) from the center of circulation.

Tropical Storm Cristobal will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 12 to 24 hours.  Cristobal will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  It will move under the western side of an upper level ridge centered over the western Caribbean Sea.  The ridge will produce southerly winds which will blow toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds will cause some vertical wind shear, but the shear will not be great enough to prevent intensification.  Tropical Storm Cristobal is likely to strengthen during the next 12 to 24 hours.

Tropical Storm Cristobal will move around the northwestern part of a larger counterclockwise circulation sometimes called a Central American Gyre (CAG).  The CAG will steer Cristobal toward the southwest during the next few hours.  Tropical Storm Cristobal will move more toward the south on Tuesday night.  The larger CAG will slowly contract around the circulation of Cristobal during the next several days.  Tropical Storm Cristobal will meander slowly near the south coast of the Bay of Campeche while the CAG contracts.  Eventually, a subtropical high pressure system over the western Atlantic Ocean will steer Cristobal northward toward the U.S.

Tropical Storm Cristobal will mix cooler water to the surface while it meanders over the southern Bay of Campeche.  The cooler water will reduce the energy available to Cristobal and the tropical storm could weaken during the middle of the week.  Tropical Storm Cristobal will weaken even more if the center of circulation moves over land.  Cristobal will drop heavy rain over Campeche, Tabasco and eastern Veracruz.  Prolonged heavy rain is likely to cause flash floods in some locations.