Tropical Storm Cristobal to weaken into 'depression' in coming hours


Washington (AFP)

A storm causing heavy rain and coastal flooding in the southern state of Louisiana is expected to weaken into a tropical depression in "the next several hours," the US National Hurricane Center said Monday.

Tropical Storm Cristobal was packing maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour) when it hit the southeast coast of the state on Sunday, the center said earlier.

But in its latest update at 0600 GMT, the NHC said the storm's wind speeds had weakened to around 40 mph.

Cristobal, the third named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, is expected to dump as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain in some places near the coast.

It is forecast to move north into Arkansas and Missouri later Monday and Tuesday before heading into Wisconsin and then arriving in Canada on Wednesday.

"Gradual weakening will continue today, and Cristobal is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression during the next several hours," the NHC said.

US President Donald Trump said he would be signing an emergency declaration for Louisiana, freeing up federal aid.

The NHC maintained a storm surge warning -- meaning "a danger of life-threatening inundation" -- for the area from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, about 90 miles away.

And it kept a tropical storm warning for an area extending to the Florida Panhandle, meaning high winds and heavy rainfall were expected.

Meteorologists have predicted a heavier-than-usual Atlantic hurricane season.

Cristobal's formation early in the week marked the earliest that the hurricane season has seen its third named storm, US meteorologists said.

Cristobal emerged out of Tropical Storm Amanda, which left at least 26 people dead across Central America and brought flooding and landslides.

Officials consider the Atlantic hurricane season to run from June 1 to November 30.