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Tropical Storm Cristobal forms in southwestern Gulf of Mexico

The system is forecast to head north toward the U.S. Gulf coast later this week, bringing higher rain chances for the Tampa Bay area.

The hurricane season’s third tropical depression turned into Tropical Storm Cristobal on Tuesday, making it the earliest third named Atlantic storm in recorded history.

Tropical Depression 3 formed Monday afternoon in the Bay of Campeche in the southwestern Gulf. By Tuesday morning, the system had strengthened into a tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The system has already brought deadly flooding to parts of Guatemala and El Salvador and was expected to bring heavy rain to Honduras and parts of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. Tropical storm conditions were expected along Mexico’s coast.

Forecasters expect the system to begin moving north across the Gulf later this week but said it’s too soon to know the location and timing of any effects on the U.S. Gulf coast.

The system will be nearly stationary for the next few days and won’t have a direct impact on Tampa Bay’s weather during that time, but it will help spread more moisture into our atmosphere during the next few days, according to Spectrum BayNews 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez. That means increased cloud cover and rain chances of 60 to 80 percent from Wednesday through the end of the week. Some of the rainfall could be heavy. High temperatures will be in the mid-80s.

Today will be partly sunny and breezy, and scattered showers and thunderstorms on the east coast will move westward into our area this afternoon, Marquez said. Rain chance today is about 40 percent and the high temperatures today will be near 90.

This is the earliest date a third named Atlantic season storm has formed since record-keeping began in 1851, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University. The previous record was Colin on June 5, 2016.

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2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

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PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

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