As we get into the rest of the week all eyes will be on the Gulf to see if Tropical Strom Cristobal strengthens into a hurricane. Currently,Cristobal is around the Yucatan Peninsula and the Bay of Campeche in Mexico with sustained winds around 60mph and very little movement. As we get through the rest of the week we will have to see how a few things play out to either see part of Cristobal here in the CSRA or its residual effects on the Southeast. The first 3 graphics are currently where Cristobal is and what it is doing. Over the course of this post I’ll cover the remaining graphics and what it means for the fate of TS Cristobal.
One key factor to the growth of tropical systems is sea surface temperatures and the depth of those warmer surface waters. Graphics 4 & 5 respectively are the sea surface temperatures and the ocean heat content, or the depth of those warm surface temps. As a rule of thumb we look for waters generally warmer than 80 degrees so any area shaded green, yellow, red, or orange is sufficient enough to aid in development. The waters in the Bay of Campeche and the Gulf have been anomalously warm this spring with water temps in the 80’s since early March. The depth of these warmer waters (Graphic 5) are at the level we typically look for at the minimum for development. While there isn’t a lot of depth to the warmer waters in the Gulf, there is at least enough to maintain it’s current strength going into the rest of the week and weekend.
The last two graphics are all about wind shear and steering. Graphic number 6 is the wind shear in the environment. Tropical systems do not like wind shear as it cuts off just about every chance it has to grow and develop as tropical storms love calm environments to grow in. One key thing to note about the wind shear is not only where the storm is located relative to any wind shear, but where it will be headed and will the wind shear be more or less favorable. In final graphic, graphic 7, this shows us the main directional steering and where the storm may head to over the near future. Looking at the wind shear, we want to look for areas that are green, these are indicative of low/minimal to no wind shear, which tropical systems love because it doesn’t mess with their development. But, the area to the north of the storm in the Gulf of Mexico shows a lot of red which indicates very strong wind shear. Now, there isn’t much steering at all for this storm over the next few days as the high pressure over the SE will continue to keep it stalled over the Bay of Campeche. Once that high pressure moves out, wind shear will likely decrease in the Gulf and Cristobal will likely begin it’s trek north towards the Gulf States.
Tropical Storm Cristobal is a fairly strong tropical storm with 60mph sustained winds and an abundance of moisture which will bring heavy rains to the Gulf states regardless if it is a tropical storm or a hurricane. Right now, as Cristobal interacts with land and wind shear to the north, it’s ability to intensify will be hampered, but once it enters the Gulf it should have enough energy to continue north and maintain its tropical storm intensity or potentially push category 1 hurricane status.
We will continue to monitor this storm and update as we get into the weekend as it continues north staring the Gulf states in the face, bringing heavy rains and winds to the Southeast and Gulf Coast starting this weekend going into next week.