Leaders along the Gulf Coast of the United States are urging residents to prepare for Cristobal now. The depression, which will likely strengthen back to a tropical storm this weekend, is still forecast to make landfall in Louisiana late Sunday into early Monday.
“In Livingston Parish [Louisiana], we’re pretty prepared year-round for things,” Parish President Layton Ricks told WAFB-TV. Livingston Parish is just northwest of New Orleans.
He wants everyone to take Cristobal seriously.
“Get your water, your batteries, gas up your vehicles, have anything you need like medicine in things like bags, ready to go in case you should have to leave,” Ricks added.
He says sand and sandbags will be available at 19 different fire stations throughout the parish. Public works crews have cleaned culverts and ditches, something they do year-round.
“We hope this time this one doesn’t get as bad, because with all the COVID in place, your issues of trying to have a shelter. We’re just not going to be able to do it,” Ricks stated.
His biggest worry is always keeping the roads in the parish clear so first responders can get to emergencies if they happen.
“Because we have a lot of low roads and we have a lot of low-lying areas where water will go over the road,” Ricks said.
East Baton Rouge Parish, just west of Livingston Parish, is getting ahead of the game, too.
“Every time we hear of a storm coming, we do some preventive maintenance,” David Barrow, mayor of Central, said. Central is the second-largest city in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Barrow said that whenever a storm is approaching, officials always check some of their smaller bridges, culverts and problem spots.
“There have been some overgrown ditches out here that just haven’t been touched in 20 to 30 years and we’re trying to get around to cleaning a lot of them out, excavating them, getting the silt out,” Barrow added.
He has asked all people who live in Central to do their part and make sure the drains outside their homes are cleared.
“Our drainage ditches can work fine, but we are subject to the rivers on each side of us, the Amite and the Comite. And, as long as they’re flowing, our local ditches are doing fine. But when those rivers start to get high, that’s when we start experiencing backwater,” Barrow said.
Flooding will be the main potential issue with Cristobal. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a flood watch for southern portions of Louisiana and Mississippi. The watch, at this time, lasts through Tuesday morning, June 9. Cristobal could produce 10 inches or more of rainfall in some areas from Baton Rouge, New Orleans and the Louisiana coast to southern Mississippi, including the city of Gulfport.
As of this morning, Cristobal was still a tropical depression over southern Mexico, with sustained winds of 35 mph. It has caused major flooding, and one person died after winds blew a tree onto him.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) still expect Cristobal to move back into the Gulf of Mexico late tonight into Saturday. The warm sea surface temperatures should re-energize the system to a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 60 mph possible by landfall on the Louisiana coast Sunday night/early Monday.
Landfall could be anywhere from the upper Texas coast to near Gulfport, Mississippi. However, the latest margin of error points to the central Louisiana coast, just southwest of Houma, as the most likely point of impact.
On this track, the heaviest rainfall and worst storm surge would result in potentially significant flooding to the east of Cristbal’s center. Areas most at risk would be from New Orleans to Gulfport and areas just inland from those cities.
Mainly because of wind shear, Cristobal won’t likely become a hurricane. However, flooding and wind damage could be bad enough to cause short-term impacts on freight movement, particularly along the Interstate 10 corridor.
The latest FreightWaves data shows the Outbound Volume Tender Index Weekly Change (OTVIW) for most Gulf Coast markets has increased. In other words, shippers have been offering more loads in these markets. This may be, in part, because they want carriers to get as much freight out of the region before Cristobal possibly slows things down for a few days.
High surf and heavy rainfall could impact operations at offshore oil rigs, as well as oil facilities and ports along the Gulf Coast.
The forecast for Cristobal may still have to be tweaked over the weekend, so look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.
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