StormTeam 3: Rare Tropical Storm Cristobal to bring rain & winds to upper Midwest

This doesn't happen often folks

Posted: Jun 7, 2020 7:15 PM
Updated: Jun 7, 2020 7:54 PM

We never thought we would be tracking a tropical system moving into our area here at KIMT, but the weather is full of surprises isn't it?

Yes, we are tracking a tropical cyclone moving into the upper Midwest. This is unprecedented. 

Let's start off with silencing any rumors though...

This is not a hurricane rolling to the Midwest. By the time it rolls into Iowa Tuesday it won't even be strong enough to be considered a tropical storm. This is not going to be the strongest storm you have ever seen, and any flooding likely won't be the worst you have ever seen either. However, Cristobal still poses a flooding threat, along with strong storms expected Tuesday afternoon. 

With that said, Cristobal will very likely still make it into the record books, and in fact it already has. It was the earliest the third storm of the Atlantic Hurricane season has ever formed, forming in the Gulf of Mexico on June 2nd. It will likely be the furthest north and west a tropical cyclone has ever tracked over the United States. As far as records go, no tropical cyclone has ever make it into Minnesota or Wisconsin, with the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 potentially having made it into southern Iowa as a Tropical Depression. Two former tropical storms have made it into Wisconsin as extra-tropical cyclones, still dropping rain along the way, but both only somewhat count. (Tropical cyclones differ form extratropical cyclones dynamically, with extratropical cyclones having cold and warm fronts - and being responsible for many of the blizzards we see during the winter months).

What we are seeing with Cristobal is not impossible though. In 2018, Tropical Storm Alberto made it all the way from the Gulf of Mexico into Michigan as a tropical depression. So we know it's possible, just incredibly rare.  

Now let's talk more about what this means for us.

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Cristobal will move into the upper Midwest Tuesday afternoon. It's center is forecast to move into Iowa sometime around noon Tuesday. At this time, Cristobal will likely still be tropical, and will thus still present some rain bands - a feature of tropical cyclones like hurricanes where thunderstorms line up and spin around the entire systems center. Some of these rain bands could move over our area as soon as noon Tuesday. Heavy downpours and gusty winds will be the concern here. If rain bands should run or train over the same area for an extended amount of time, flooding will quickly become a concern. Like everything with Cristobal though, this will be dependent on how far away the center of the storm tracks.

If Cristobal is tropical on Tuesday afternoon, you may notice that these storms just feel different. The air will not cool as much after it rains, and humidity will still remain. 

Overnight Tuesday, Cristobal will begin to transition into an extratropical cyclone as it merges with a cold front approaching from the west. This will bring us cooler temps in Wednesday, but it will also serve to squeeze out more rain and strengthen the storms winds. Winds Wednesday will reach 25mph out of the northwest, with gusts above 30mph. Keep in mind, any change in the timing of the cold front Tuesday will impact the forecast.

Let's also breifly talk about Tornadoes. Tropical cyclones like Hurricanes can in fact spin up tornadoes. These tropical tornadoes most often occur on the right side of the storm relative to its motion. Lucky for us, we look to be on Cristobal's left side as its center marches towards Wisconsin. Tornadoes will be of low concern unless Cristobal manages to track a lot closer or even west of us. 

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Now it's time to talk about rainfall potential.

Tropical systems like Cristobal can carry an incredible amount of moisture with them, and merging a tropical cyclone with a cold front is a great way to squeeze out a lot of rain. So for us in the Midwest, rainfall and potential flooding is our greatest concern. 

Models differ on rainfall amounts across our area. Both the European and RPM model bring 3+ inches to a wide swath of our area with more isolated higher amounts, while the GFS brings more in the range of 1-2 inches to us. How much rain wee see form Cristobal will depend on where exactly it tracks. The closer it tracks to us, the more likely we are to see more rain. Flooding will likely begin to occur when rainfall accumulations begin to top 3 inches, so we will have to monitor the track of Cristobal as it draws closer.

Feel free to contact KIMT with any and all weather questions.  

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97638

Reported Deaths: 2067
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin27372932
Ramsey11088322
Dakota7635126
Anoka6238137
Stearns407724
Washington388355
Scott262533
Olmsted251928
Nobles197716
Blue Earth17266
Wright16957
St. Louis165941
Carver14377
Clay141741
Rice13438
Mower13425
Sherburne116914
Kandiyohi10552
Winona91318
Lyon7224
Waseca6898
Benton5603
Crow Wing55518
Steele5552
Freeborn5464
Nicollet54517
Watonwan5304
Chisago5131
Todd5042
McLeod5012
Le Sueur4744
Otter Tail4624
Beltrami4505
Martin43010
Goodhue3829
Itasca34715
Pine3430
Douglas3372
Polk3224
Isanti3151
Becker2812
Carlton2761
Morrison2682
Dodge2570
Pipestone23210
Cottonwood2280
Chippewa2231
Meeker2132
Wabasha2020
Sibley1993
Brown1962
Yellow Medicine1902
Cass1844
Redwood1773
Rock1760
Murray1722
Mille Lacs1693
Renville1578
Unassigned15452
Jackson1491
Faribault1470
Swift1441
Fillmore1330
Houston1280
Kanabec1278
Roseau1250
Koochiching1233
Pennington1201
Hubbard1171
Lincoln1160
Stevens1041
Pope990
Aitkin831
Big Stone830
Wadena720
Wilkin703
Lac qui Parle651
Grant634
Lake600
Norman540
Marshall531
Mahnomen491
Red Lake451
Traverse340
Clearwater280
Lake of the Woods231
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 86860

Reported Deaths: 1315
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk16010262
Woodbury555467
Johnson517027
Black Hawk450990
Linn4101113
Story346217
Dubuque333241
Scott304528
Dallas280738
Pottawattamie215939
Buena Vista199912
Marshall179134
Sioux16803
Wapello134057
Webster128014
Plymouth116121
Clinton113021
Muscatine112155
Crawford11005
Cerro Gordo105921
Warren9666
Jasper86432
Des Moines8008
Marion7697
Henry7554
Tama73932
Carroll6855
Lee6437
Wright5961
Dickinson5306
Boone5178
Bremer5027
Washington47211
Louisa43115
Delaware4233
Mahaska41519
Floyd3543
Jackson3523
Franklin35118
Lyon3514
Winneshiek3406
Clay3344
Hamilton3323
Benton3281
Winnebago31713
Hardin3071
Poweshiek3078
Buchanan2861
Jones2843
Kossuth2800
Butler2752
Emmet27010
Clarke2683
Shelby2681
Allamakee2666
Chickasaw2661
Sac2650
Clayton2633
Cherokee2552
Cedar2521
Guthrie2527
Harrison2523
Fayette2312
Madison2272
Grundy2243
Iowa2161
Palo Alto2050
Hancock1952
Howard1927
Humboldt1913
Mitchell1910
Calhoun1873
Mills1831
Page1710
Cass1692
Osceola1690
Pocahontas1652
Monona1601
Monroe16011
Lucas1566
Appanoose1423
Jefferson1391
Union1383
Taylor1321
Davis1274
Ida1261
Fremont1210
Van Buren1151
Keokuk1141
Worth1090
Greene1030
Montgomery975
Audubon871
Wayne872
Adair721
Decatur670
Ringgold532
Adams330
Unassigned140
Rochester
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Charles City
Scattered Clouds
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Winds pick up for Wednesday
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