Roadways across St.Bernard Parish, Louisiana, were flooded on Sunday, June 7, as Tropical Storm Cristobal neared landfall.
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
NEW ORLEANSÂ â€“Â Tropical Storm CristobalÂ made landfallÂ in southeast LouisianaÂ early Sunday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center, bringing hazardousÂ conditions that will continue to spread inland across portions of the northern Gulf Coast.
The center of Cristobal will move inland across southeastern Louisiana through Monday morning, and northward across Arkansas and Missouri on Monday afternoon into Tuesday. It is forecast to weakenÂ to a tropical depression Monday, according to an update from the NHC.
Coronavirus testing eventsÂ that had been scheduled for Monday in JacksonÂ have been canceled, the University of Mississippi Medical Center said in an email.
Prior to making landfall around 5 p.m., Cristobal had slowed down on its trek towardÂ theÂ Gulf Coast. While the storm remained offshore, thousands were without power Sunday morningÂ in parts of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi. Some roads had flooded. The National Weather Service reported one tornado Saturday night in Florida, near downtown Orlando.
The third named storm of a busy Atlantic hurricane seasonÂ was not expected to intensify into a hurricane, but it will leave its mark as it moves inlandÂ along the southeast coast ofÂ Louisiana, forecasters said.Â
Squalls with tropical-force winds reached the mouth of the Mississippi RiverÂ on Sunday, with maximum sustained windsÂ of 50 mph.Â The storm hadÂ slowed to 5 mph on a northward trajectory after moving at 12 mph earlier in the day.
By Sunday evening, CristobalÂ was 50 miles south of New Orleans.Â
The National Hurricane Center expectedÂ “a gradual turn toward the north-northwest late” Sunday.
“Conditions are expected to continue to deteriorate today,” the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned. “The center of Cristobal will approach the northern Gulf of Mexico coast this afternoon, then move inland across Louisiana late today through Monday morning, and northward across Arkansas and Missouri Monday afternoon into Tuesday.”
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In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel EdwardsÂ declared a state of emergency. “Continue to stay weather aware this weekend as Tropical Storm Cristobal makes its way to Louisiana,” Edwards warned residents in a tweet.
Windows were boarded up in New OrleansÂ hours before Cristobalâ€™s expected landfall.
Though the streets were mostly empty, those still running errands were not too concerned with the impending storm.
CR Holloway, 83, a French Quarter resident, wore a face mask as he shoppedÂ for sesame seeds for a dinner party he plans to hostÂ Monday evening. When asked about the potential for flooding in the city, he said his thoughts are more occupied with the COVID-19 pandemic andÂ calls for police changesÂ than they are with Cristobal.
â€œThe storm seems like the lesser of all evils, very insignificant compared to whatâ€™s going on in our culture,â€ Holloway said.
Similarly, art gallery owner Vina Nguyen framed the storm in the larger context of events that have rocked her city.
Like many shop owners in downtown New Orleans, Nguyen boarded up her art gallery last week to protect from the protests against police brutality as much as the storm. Before last weekâ€™s rallies, the gallery was closed because ofÂ the pandemic.
â€œItâ€™s crazy what weâ€™re going through with the pandemic, the protests and now a tropical storm. Itâ€™s an eerie time,â€ Nguyen said. â€œIâ€™m kind of in disbelief.â€
Brandon Smith of Biloxi, Mississippi, said he always boards up before a storm.
â€œWe learned a powerful and expensive lesson with (Hurricane) Katrina, and I suppose I’m a little paranoid about the storms these days,â€ he said.Â â€œIt’s always inconvenient to drag the boards out of the shed, but a few hours of preparation goes a long way.â€
Smith said his family home, which is near the Tchoutacabouffa River, flooded during Katrina, but no windows were broken. The home is 15 feet above sea level, so he does not expect to see flooding from Cristobal.
â€œBut I try to take every precaution to protect the house against flying debris,â€ he said.Â â€œIf a window gets destroyed, everything inside gets ruined.Â Why not protect it?â€
Smithâ€™s grandfather, Senior Master Sgt. Jimmy L. Smith, was a founding member of the Hurricane Hunters 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.
â€œHe passed away a few years ago, but I take these storms as seriously as he did, and always will,â€ Smith said.
TheÂ storm could spawnÂ heavy rains from East Texas to Florida thisÂ week, the hurricane center said. Cristobal is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 4 to 8 inches across portions of the central Gulf Coast into the Lower Mississippi Valley, and 12 inches of rain is possible in isolated areas.
A few tornadoes were possible Sunday afternoon and night across eastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern AlabamaÂ and northern Florida.
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A tropical storm warning was posted for the northern Gulf of Mexico coast from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border.
Storm surge warnings and watches were in effect in Louisiana and Mississippi, andÂ flooding up to 5 feet was expected in some places.
The storm’sÂ large wind field will drive high surf to the beaches of the entire Gulf Coast, the Weather Channel said, whipping up dangerous rip currents and coastal flooding, particularly along and to the east of the track from Louisiana to western Florida.Â
A dangerousÂ combination ofÂ storm surge and high tides will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland, the Weather Channel said.
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In some parts of Louisiana, construction crews worked toÂ increase levee heights in anticipation of the storm surge.
Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted last month as many as 19 named storms would form this year, of which as many as 10 will be hurricanes. It’s one of many forecasts that predict an unusually busy Atlantic hurricane season, which started Monday.Â
The storm already had an impactÂ Saturday evening when a tornado touched down near downtown Orlando, the National Weather Service said. The twister just missed a group of George Floyd protesters at Lake Eola around 7:30 p.m. There appeared to be no injuries, but tree limbs were knocked down, and there were reports of power outages.
â€œYes, it is related to the tropical storm that is well to our west,â€ said Scott Kelly, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida. â€œBut the tropical storm provided a lot of low level shear, and that has allowed for some tornadoes to form over Central Florida.â€
Miller reported from Arlington, Virginia; Reyes from New York. Contributing: Lici Beveridge, TheÂ Hattiesburg American; Grace Pateras, The LafayetteÂ Daily Advertiser; The Associated Press
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