Tropical Storm Cristobal remains disorganized, no longer a threat to U.S.


Enhanced satellite imagery of Tropical Storm Cristobal on Monday morning. (NOAA)

Tropical Storm Cristobal, which formed over the weekend, is a disorganized mess on satellite, though the National Hurricane Center expects it to strengthen to hurricane status over the next few days. The storm, which is located north of the southern Bahamas, is no longer a threat to the U.S. coast.

Cristobal is a messy storm, with all of its thunderstorm activity sheared off to the southeast. The surface circulation is exposed and plainly visible on enhanced satellite (top image). Wind shear, which acts to tear apart tropical cyclones, is the culprit for the storm’s deteriorated state.

Tropical Storm Cristobal has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph on Monday morning, with a minimum central pressure of 993 mb. Despite its raggedness, aircraft reconnaissance missions that have been investigating Cristobal have found the storm to be slowly strengthening, and the National Hurricane Center expects this to continue as wind shear decreases over the next couple of days.

Heavy rain has been falling in the Turks and Caicos Islands as Cristobal has been sitting over the region since Saturday. Four to eight inches of rain, with isolated amounts of 12 inches, is expected on the islands  as well as parts of the southeastern and central Bahamas. Cristobal is forecast to move away from the Bahamas through Tuesday.


Track and intensity forecast for Tropical Storm Cristobal. (National Hurricane Center)

The movement of Tropical Storm Cristobal has been slow and meandering since it formed as Tropical Depression Four over the Turks and Caicos Islands on Saturday. Since then, the storm has moved generally northwest, and currently has a forward speed of just 2 mph due to a lack of upper level steering current. However, an approaching upper level trough is expected to give Cristobal a nudge, prompting a forecast track to the northeast and out to sea over the next five days.

Tropical Storm Cristobal formed from an African easterly wave that has been moving west across the Atlantic over the past couple of weeks. During that time, forecast models had been in significant disagreement on the track of the potential storm, igniting conversation in the media over the merits of using such forecasts so far in advance of the storm’s formation. However, now that Tropical Storm Cristobal has developed, the models have come into better agreement that the storm is not a threat to the U.S. coast.

Angela Fritz is an atmospheric scientist and The Post's deputy weather editor.
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