Storm Cristobal: Tornado hits Florida as US Gulf Coast braces for battering from tropical rains

  • london
  • June 7, 2020
  • Comments Off on Storm Cristobal: Tornado hits Florida as US Gulf Coast braces for battering from tropical rains

The latest headlines in your inbox twice a day Monday – Friday plus breaking news updates

The US Gulf coast is bracing to be battered by a powerful tropical storm and tornados.

Rain pounded the region on Sunday ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Cristobal, which has already spawned a tornado in Florida and threatened more twisters along with high winds and storm surge.

Roads flooded in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, and thousands were without power even before the storm made landfall.

Forecasters warned the storm would affect a wide area stretching roughly 180 miles (290 kilometres) east into Florida and would arrive late on Sunday, but they do not expect it to grow into a hurricane.

New Orleans is bracing for a battering as the heavy rains begin (Getty Images)

But they forecast the worst impacts in southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi, where some spots could get up to 12 inches of rain and storm surges of several feet.

The storm, re-energised following a slight weakening while travelling over the Gulf of Mexico, is advancing towards US shores at about 12mph.

A state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana and the state has requested that US president Donald Trump bring in a pre-landfall emergency due to the threat.

The storm has already wreaked havoc on Yucatan, Mexico, and is now moving towards the US (AFP via Getty Images)

Grand Isle in Louisiana has already been evacuated.

The National Hurricane Centre in Miami said the storm was expected to slowly strengthen until it reaches the US.

Forecasters said the storm’s centre will move inland across Louisiana late Sunday through early Monday and then head north across Arkansas and Missouri on Monday afternoon and into Tuesday.

“Now is the time to make your plans, which should include the traditional emergency items along with masks and hand sanitiser as we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement.

In a letter to the White House, he added: “We are confident that there will be widespread, heavy rainfall and coastal flooding.

“I anticipate the need for emergency protective measures, evacuations, and sheltering for the high-risk areas. The length of possible inundation is unknown and will likely require post-flood activities.”

Cristobal formed this week in the Bay of Campeche from the remnants of Tropical Storm Amanda, which had sprung up last weekend in the eastern Pacific and hit Central America.

The two storms combined to drench the region with 35 inches of rain in some areas over the past week and at least 30 deaths have been linked to the flooding and landslides they unleashed.