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InsightsNewsWeather and Critical Events

Cristobal still poses flooding threat after moving inland (with forecast video)

Middle, upper Mississippi valleys at risk

Tropical Storm Cristobal crashed into the Gulf Coast over the weekend, making landfall near Grand Isle, Louisiana Sunday evening.

Steady winds of 50 mph lashed the coastline and pushed Gulf of Mexico water onshore.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Tropical Depression Cristobal, Monday, June 8, 2020, 10 a.m. EDT

The storm surge, plus heavy rainfall, flooded roads and beaches from Louisiana to near western Florida. Some areas may remain flooded today, and sections of some highways are still closed as of this morning, including US-90.

Record daily rainfall Sunday pounded Mobile, Alabama, which received 5.56 inches, as well as Pensacola, Florida, which measured 2.78 inches of rainfall.

As of 8 a.m. EDT today, Cristobal was centered near Natchez, Mississippi, having moved only around 180 miles during the 14 hours since it made landfall. Cristobal has weakened to a tropical depression with sustained winds of 35 mph.

Despite weaker winds, Cristobal is still dropping heavy rainfall across the lower Mississippi Valley. As the depression trudges northward over the next few days, flooding will threaten areas in the middle and upper Mississippi valleys.

Rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches could pile up from northern Arkansas to southern Wisconsin. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued flash flood watches from Little Rock to La Crosse.

Few, if any, major disruptions in surface transportation and freight movement have been reported as a direct result of Cristobal.

However, the U.S. Coast Guard restricted traffic over the weekend in and out of the Port of New Orleans, also known as Port NOLA. According to its website, the Port NOLA Container Terminal (New Orleans Terminal and Ports America) will be closed today, June 8, as well as all breakbulk terminals. Normal business operations will resume Tuesday, June 9.

The New Orleans Flood Protection Authority closed the floodgates in and around New Orleans. Shipments destined to or traveling through New Orleans will be impacted. Precautionary actions have been taken to protect infrastructure, and rail equipment has been re-positioned away from low-lying areas.

Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) has been working with customers located in the region to identify switching needs and with interchange partners to move certain shipments over alternate interchange gateways. Ongoing updates will be provided as this storm system progresses. Rail freight on other carriers may also be delayed.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his nearly 20 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.
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