Cristobal has already set records becoming the earliest third named tropical storm in the Atlantic on record. On average the third named storm typically doesn’t develop until around August 13th. The previous record-holder was in 2016 when the National Hurricane Center (NHC) upgraded TD3 to Tropical Storm Colin.
Cristobal began to move north on Friday picking up speed to 12 mph from its tall over the Campeche area of Mexico. Forecasters expect the storm to strengthen again over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before striking the US Gulf Coast. The system is sprawling in size, and it’s likely to increase in size over the Gulf of Mexico. Outer bands have already begun impacting Florida
According to the National Hurricane Center, tropical-storm-force winds could arrive along parts of the northern Gulf Coast as early as Saturday night but are most likely expected to arrive by Sunday, continuing into Sunday night or early Monday morning.
Cristobal will likely make landfall as a strong tropical storm, but there is a chance that Cristobal reaches hurricane strength as it spends time over warm Gulf waters. Gulf surface temperatures were in the 80s across most of the region as of Friday, a critical temperature threshold for supporting tropical systems.