MEXICO CITY – Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Campeche on Wednesday, dumping heavy rain on the already soaked region ahead of an expected eventual turn toward the United States, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
The Mexican army evacuated 138 people in Campeche after floodwaters threatened homes, and police in Campeche reported water washing across highways.
The storm's sustained winds weakened to 45 mph (75 kph) after it moved inland, where it was expected to become a tropical depression by Thursday, before heading back into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, where it could gather strength again.
By Sunday it could move north and threaten the U.S. Gulf Coast.
While Cristobal is forecast to regain tropical storm strength as it nears the U.S. coast, “the model guidance currently suggests that the atmospheric environment over the Gulf will not be very conducive for strengthening,” the hurricane center wrote.
Forecasters expected Cristobal to meander along Mexico’s Gulf coast Wednesday and Thursday, causing severe flooding.
The hurricane center said the storm made landfall Wednesday morning near Atasta, just west of the major oil production town of Ciudad del Carmen. By late Wednesday, the storm was nearly stationary about 20 miles (35 kilometers) south of Ciudad del Carmen.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was in Campeche’s capital Wednesday as part of his weeklong tour promoting a train project. He was about 145 miles (235 kilometers) from where the storm made landfall.
Cristobal formed Tuesday from the remnants of the Pacific Tropical Storm Amanda that had caused deadly flooding and landslides in Central America. At least 22 deaths in El Salvador and Guatemala were blamed on the storm.
Cristobal was the earliest third named storm of an Atlantic hurricane season on record. In 2016, Tropical Storm Colin formed in the Gulf on June 5.