MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tropical Storm Cristobal crept along just inland over Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Campeche on Thursday, threatening to cause flooding the next few days before a predicted turn northward toward the U.S.
The storm’s sustained winds weakened to 40 mph (65 kph) after it moved inland Wednesday near the oil town of Ciudad del Carmen. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it was expected to weaken into a tropical depression on Thursday, but then begin strengthening once it moved back over the Gulf of Mexico on Friday.
Cristobal was forecast to be out in the central Gulf on Saturday and could be nearing the U.S. Gulf Coast by Sunday, the hurricane center said. It added that current conditions “will not be very conducive” for further strengthening as the storm moves away from Mexico.
The Mexican army evacuated 138 people in Campeche after floodwaters threatened homes, and police in Campeche reported water washing across highways.
Early Thursday, the storm was moving southeast at 2 mph (4kph) about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of Ciudad del Carmen.
National civil defense coordinator David León said Thursday that officials had helped evacuate nine municipalities in the southeast. The main concern was the storm’s slow movement meaning it would continue dumping rain on the same saturated area for days and could cause rivers to overflow their banks, León said.
León, who was appearing with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Palenque, Chiapas, said the only reported death was someone killed by a falling tree in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.
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.